Four words that ‘angered' SA businessman Lei Guo, led to bubble tea brawl: court

The South Australian businessman at the centre of a wild brawl in a bubble tea shop earlier this year slapped an employee because she insulted his mother, a court has heard.

Lei Guo, also known as Gavin Guo, was charged with one count of basic assault after a video of him slapping a woman in the face went viral on the internet in February this year.

The 40-year-old from Glen Osmond pleaded guilty to the charge in June, admitting to his role in the brawl that broke out at the Chinatown store called FunTea on January 29.

Despite his lawyer Martin Anders asking that no conviction be handed down, Magistrate John Fahey on Wednesday ruled Guo record a conviction and sign a two-and-a-half year good behaviour bond.

The magistrate said it would have been inappropriate not to record a conviction because of the public attention the case had drawn.

“Many people were rightly shocked by the violence of your actions,” he said.

“The court should illustrate the disapproval of your actions by reporting a conviction.”

pleaded guilty

Camera IconLei Guo, also known as Gavin, pleaded guilty to assaulting the woman in the FunTea bubble tea shop. NCA NewsWire / Dean Martin Credit: News Corp Australia

The Adelaide Magistrates Court heard Guo was invited to attend the FunTea store by the owner where he was to donate books.

According to the magistrate, the Chinese national thought the waitress was “rude and abrupt”.

Guo mistakenly believed the woman was talking about him and his wife when he saw the young employee in an angry confrontation with the owner.

Magistrate Fahey said the man approached her to ask her to stop talking about him when she later said to him in Mandarin “your mother’s a b**ch”.

Guo was “immediately angered by this” and responded by slapping her.

Magistrate Fahey described the act as “forceful and violent” and said his assessment of the situation was “completely wrong”.

“Even if she was complaining about you, it cannot be an excuse for your actions.

“You had no right to strike her and a blow to the head carries significant risk of injury.”

After reading 39 character references provided to the court, Magistrate Fahey said he believed Guo was “a good man” and “sometimes good people do bad things”.

The court heard Guo’s two children had been bullied at school, his wife sought professional help for her stress and anxiety and his family in China had received death threats and harassing telephone calls as a result of the video that was viewed by thousands across Australia and overseas.

Magistrate Fahey said the defendant had also suffered chronic insomnia and guilt and his reputation within the Chinese community had been “tarnished”.

A clinical psychologist’s report tendered to the court said that Guo was experiencing a range of work related stressors at the time of the incident, resulting in him feeling “emotionally triggered” and “agitated” when he arrived at the bubble tea shop.

Based on that assessment, the court heard the mental health professional believed the assault was prompted by “unfortunate and unique” factors, making him “extremely unlikely” to offend again.

pleaded guilty

Camera IconThe shocking video emerged in early February, showing Guo slapping the young employee in the face. Supplied Credit: Supplied

pleaded guilty

Camera IconOnce the brawl broke out, it also showed Guo kicking the victim to the ground. Supplied Credit: Supplied

The footage — all in Mandarin — showed the young female employee arguing with another man in a grey top but Guo, dressed in a black T-shirt, stepped in and slapped the woman across the face.

A brawl quickly erupted inside the store where the victim tried to throw what looks like a black bag at her assaulter, and missed.

She was then seen yelling at him and starting to hit him before Guo kicked her to the ground.

pleaded guilty

Camera IconThe business taped its statement, written in both in Mandarin and English, to the shop window. Naomi Jellicoe Credit: News Corp Australia

pleaded guilty

Camera IconThe FunTea store in Adelaide’s CBD closed after the assault went viral on the internet. New managers were announced in March. NCA NewsWire / Kelly Barnes Credit: News Corp Australia

A number of customers, including children, witnessed the attack.

Once the footage went viral, the owners of the store posted a public notice in its shop window, stating Guo was a customer and not affiliated with the business.

They also denied claims the argument stemmed from a pay dispute.

But the victim, who is an international student, rebutted those claims in a public statement and said she was only paid between $10 and $12 an hour as a casual employee — well below the legal minimum wage of $25.51 for restaurant employees.

Following the incident, an announcement was made in March that the FunTea store was under new management.

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