A cowardly thug has been jailed for bashing The Block star Shaynna Blaze while she was out walking her dog.
Mark Christopher Surmon, 40, approached the high-profile designer from behind and punched her in the back of the head on April 18, 2020.
He then struck her left cheek, causing her to fall to the ground and hit her chin, the County Court of Victoria heard.
Blaze screamed out, but Surmon tried to stifle her cries for help by putting “his hand around her face and mouth”, the Herald Sun reported.
The attack was unprovoked and Blaze had “no opportunity to run”.
“He placed pressure on her shoulders to keep her down while this occurred,” Detective Senior Constable John Connor told the court.
The assault has had a “prolonged impact” on Blaze, the court was told.
Surmon was jailed for 100 days on April 5 this year, but immediately appealed to avoid going behind bars.
But his appeal was dismissed earlier this month and he is now serving the full sentence.
He was handed a community corrections order to help with drug and mental health issues.
Surmon’s lawyers had argued that he had schizophrenia.
“Crimes like this need to stop and punishment and rehabilitation are both important levers for our society,” Blaze said.
“I hope he gets the help he needs so this doesn’t happen to anyone else”.
Blaze runs family violence charity Voice of Change, and earned nearly half a million dollars for the organisation by winning the Celebrity Apprentice last year.
“I haven’t had the best time in a lot of relationships, but I am not defined by what has been done to me,” she said at the time, revealing that she had personally experienced domestic violence in her past.
“This is my past and my personal life … I want other women out there to know that you can have a voice and there are people out there who want to give you a voice. You can still live a great life, be successful and still keep your integrity no matter what happens to you.”
In an interview with Nine published after the show aired, Blaze gave further detail about her own experience with domestic violence.
“It comes in many different forms of verbal, coercive, physical and financial control, which I’ve experienced,” she said.
“It’s something that I didn’t know how to handle. I didn’t know what to do. All these things happen very slowly and get confused with what love actually is.”
Twice-married Blaze told the outlet the abuse she suffered did not happen during her childhood or in a recent relationship, but rather a “time earlier in her life”.
“The shame stops you moving forward. I think that’s the biggest thing. Not being able to communicate properly and not being able to get rid of the shame of what it is makes you struggle to move out of the situation,” she said.
“There is no shame against it because in the end you weren’t the person that did it.”
Blaze’s charity Voice of Change “supports arts-based projects that give a voice to people experiencing, or who have experienced, family violence and their families in an effort to champion meaningful education about – and action against – family violence”.
“The last five years, watching the news and seeing the amount of women that have been murdered, and their children … it’s just been intense, and it just kept getting stronger and stronger. As we were making this movie about domestic violence, the charity just naturally came about – it wasn’t something I went ahead to do, it was something I just had to do,” she said.
“It’s changing who we are as people, as a community. We’re all guilty of bystanding in some way, and we need to change – and that’s what Voice of Change is about.”