A premiership football captain has escaped conviction for an on-field incident that left an opposition player missing four teeth.
Alex Beggs, 27, pleaded guilty to recklessly causing serious injury at the Wodonga Magistrates Court yesterday for a punch to Thurgoona forward Bryden Power during a match between the two sides at Eskdale in May.
About 10 minutes into the second quarter, the court heard the pair had exchanged a number of hip-and-shoulder blows away from the play that left Beggs “agitated”.
While witnesses accounts of what happened next varied, police believe the captain swung a right-hand punch at his opponent’s face.
In a later police interview the qualified boilermaker said he threw the punch “instinctively” thinking that Power was coming towards him in another bump.
The blow left his opponent on his knees and he had to be helped from the ground and treated at hospital.
Four of his teeth were recovered from the oval at half-time and three have since been replaced with a plate after failed attempts by dentists to re-insert them.
After a VCFL investigation Beggs appeared before the Tallangatta and District league tribunal and was hit with a four-match ban after pleading guilty to striking under provocation.
Yesterday magistrate John Murphy ordered the Tallangatta father-of-two to pay $1500 to a University of Melbourne memorial fund.
But Mr Murphy did not convict Beggs after reading a number of character references, including accounts from his Beggs’ wife and Kinross Woolshed owner and former coach Nic Conway.
“Alex is far from a violent person. The fact that he is appearing before the court has been a huge price to pay,” Mr Conway’s reference said.
Mr Murphy conceded the sentence might seem “a little light” but said he had to balance efforts to deter others with the broader aspects of Beggs’ character.
Dentists are still monitoring one of Power’s teeth which was cracked in the incident.