CARLTON footballer Heath Scotland was yesterday convicted over a king-hit assault on a Melbourne man at a Mulwala club early last year.
Scotland, 32, appeared in the District Court at Albury for a Crown appeal over the leniency of a sentence by a magistrate who imposed a two-year bond without a conviction.
But Judge Paul Lakatos said the magistrate was acting on the mistaken belief that Scotland had good character and proceeded on the basis he had no previous criminal history.
Judge Lakatos said incorrect information was also provided about Scotland seeking to avoid conviction for a career as a fireman when his AFL days were over.
During a melee at the Mulwala Ski Club in the early hours of January 29, Scotland restrained his brother.
But he returned to get his shoes from inside, put them on and then king-kit a Melbourne tradesman with his right fist.
His actions were described by Judge Lakatos as retribution for what had happened earlier.
“To put it bluntly, it appears to be an act of revenge,” Judge Lakatos said.
Earlier, he said the reference to a king-hit was troubling which indicated the victim was vulnerable.
Judge Lakatos allowed the Crown appeal and convicted Scotland, putting him on a 12-month bond.
Director of Public Prosecutions representative Graham Lamond provided a letter from the Metropolitan Fire Brigade’s chief executive which said Scotland would be prevented being a fireman for 10 years after pleading guilty to an offence.
Judge Lakatos said the magistrate was dealing with Scotland as though he was what people in the legal profession called “cleanskins”.
Heavy reliance was put on Scotland’s good character, but Mr Lamond said there had been a previous incident at the Crown Casino nightclub in May 2005.
Scotland had assaulted a woman known to him.
He was originally charged with recklessly causing injury and assault, but the matter was dealt with by a diversion without any conviction.
Barrister Bruce Nibbs, representing Scotland, said police and a magistrate had ruled the earlier matter did not warrant a bond.
Mr Nibbs said it was “of such slight seriousness that it would warrant a warning”.
Mr Lamond pressed for a conviction and said the Mulwala assault was “a cowardly blow”.
The victim suffered a loss of consciousness, a sore jaw and was taken to the Wangaratta Base Hospital for observation.
Judge Lakatos said it was appropriate that he intervened with the penalty and referred to the previous assault by Scotland.
“I believe that says something about the character or lack of good character of the appellant,” he said.