9:30AM: YESTERDAY was not the first time Carlton footballer Heath Scotland had successfully used a firefighting career to avoid a conviction for club violence.
The Blues midfielder was 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, despite pleading guilty to a charge over a king-hit that left a man unconscious.
Instead, Scotland, 32, received a two-year good behaviour bond. Magistrate Tony Murray said normally the assault charge would also have warranted a conviction, but in this case he said there were extenuating circumstances.
The court was told Carlton would suspend Scotland for two preseason matches and fine him $3000.
A conviction would have meant Scotland would have been banned from joining the Metropolitan Fire Brigade for 10 years, ruining his post-AFL aspirations.
But in 2005, Scotland was told he would “only get this opportunity once” after escaping conviction for slapping an ex-girlfriend on the face at the Next Blue nightclub in Melbourne.
The midfielder had been charged with assault and recklessly causing injury.
In court in 2006, Scotland revealed his firefighting ambitions and magistrate Paul Smith took heed. He told the court that while the charges against Scotland were serious, he had an ambition to become a fireman, a job that required a clean record.
Scotland was ordered to pay $3000 to beyondblue and formally apologise to the woman and the police to avoid being convicted of the charges.
Lawyer Bernie Balmer, who represented Scotland yesterday, also represented Scotland in 2006.