HEATH Scotland’s ambitions to become a firefighter helped the Carlton footballer escape a conviction yesterday over a king-hit that left a man unconscious.
The club champion is the only one of four men charged over a January brawl at the Mulwala Ski Club to escape both a fine and a criminal record.
He arrived at Albury Local Court yesterday with two Melbourne lawyers, his parents, wife and five character references, including Carlton chief executive Greg Swann and his mother-in-law.
He walked free yesterday afternoon with nothing more than a two-year good behaviour bond.
Instead, his major punishment will be dealt out by Carlton, with Scotland likely to be suspended for two preseason games and slapped with a $3000 fine by the club.
After being charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm, the 32-year-old was facing a maximum prison term of five years.
His brother, windscreen-fitter Brett Scotland, his victim, Melbourne tradesman Mark Richard Vickers-Foote, and another Melbourne man Kyle Brooks were all convicted and fined $600 over a lesser charge of using violence to cause fear.
Magistrate Tony Murray said normally the assault charge faced by Scotland would also have warranted a conviction.
But in this case he said there were extenuating circumstances.
A conviction would have meant Scotland would have been banned from joining the Metropolitan Fire Brigade for 10 years, ruining his post-AFL aspirations.
Mr Murray also took into account the footballer’s extensive
volunteer work and the “extra-curial” punishments imposed by his club.
After the sentence was handed down yesterday, Scotland’s solicitor Bernie Balmer said his client was remorseful about the incident and glad that it was over.
He rubbished suggestions the Carlton veteran had got off “scot-free”.
“He’s been charged, he’s gone to court, how can you say that’s scot-free?” Mr Balmer said.
“He’s going to lose games, he is going to lose money, so it’s a fairly hefty penalty.”