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Leading QC surprised by Scotland's non-conviction after 'fireman' defence twice

Posted by: 3AW Radio | 9 October, 2012 - 3:04 PM
Heath Scotland (right) leaves an Albury court yesterday. (Photo: Tara Ashworth)

Leading QC David Galbally has expressed his surprise at a New South Wales Magistrates' decision to hand Carlton footballer a non-conviction, given his prior assault history.

Speaking with Neil Mitchell, David Galbally QC said the Magistrate should have been aware of Scotland's prior conviction, where in 2006 he pleaded guilty to recklessly causing injury charges after slapping an ex-girlfriend in a nightclub toilet.

LISTEN: David Galbally speaks with Neil Mitchell

Yesterday, Scotland faced charges of assault causing actual bodily harm after an incident where a man was knocked unconscious after a single punch administered by the 32-year-old footballer.

In both cases, Scotland asked that a conviction not be recorded in order for him to avoid preclusion from joining the fire brigade.

"I'm very surprised because it seems to be a very similar incident, that is, an assault. It's violence and it just seems to be almost identical," Mr Galbally said.

"A Magistrate would (normally) say he's been given a chance in the past, I'm not prepared to give him a second chance."

Mr Galbally said if the decision been made in Victoria, the Police would be able to appeal the non-conviction. He was unsure of the options available to Police in New South Wales.

Yesterday NSW Magistrate Tony Murray said Scotland's latest charge was not 'a trivial matter', but said the single punch wasn't a cowardly act because the victim wasn't king hit from behind.

Six years after being told by a Magistrate that he would ‘only get this opportunity once’, Carlton footballer Heath Scotland has escaped conviction to an assault charge after pleading that his firefighting career ambitions would be derailed.

In 2006, Magistrate Paul Smith said while his offence was ‘significant’, Scotland was told “you will only get this opportunity once.” He was ordered to pay $3000 to Beyond Blue, write an apology to the woman he slapped and a thank you letter to a policeman who had recommended him for a diversion program.

Speaking with Ross and John, Scotland’s lawyer Bernie Balmer said Scotland felt genuine remorse for the fact he had knocked a man unconscious in a brawl at the Mulwala Ski Club in Yarrawonga in late January.

"When Heath saw his brother who has (a) disability upset and crying... it stirred his inner family protective juices. He showed genuine remorse,” he said.

Had Scotland received a conviction for the assault causing actual bodily harm charge, it would have prevented him from joining the MFB for ten years. Magistrate Tony Murray said this played a role in his deciding not to convict Scotland.

Scotland pleaded guilty to the charge of assault causing actual bodily harm, while another charge of common assault was withdrawn. He was given a two-year good behaviour bond, with his community work, positive character references and possible football-club imposed suspensions also noted.

Scotland's brother, Brett, who was involved in the same brawl pleaded guilty to one count of violent disorder and was convicted and fined $600.

The Carlton Football Club are yet to deliver any sanctions.

LISTEN: Bernie Balmer speaks with Ross and John:

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Blog comments Your Say

  • So this psychopath gets away with being an abusive sod twice. If this wasn't so serious I would say it was a joke. Thank heavens this psychopath would not pass the MFB psychology test and therefore he will never be an MFB firefighter anyway.

    GRANNA Wednesday 10 October, 2012 - 4:42 PM
  • I agree with you Francesca. I had to take my daughter out of school for a day last year because some meat head AFL footballer was coming there to address all the students. If you care about your kids you'd never let them anywhere near that violent, sexist culture of AFL football.

    Peter Hillster Wednesday 10 October, 2012 - 2:46 PM
  • @ Francesca Wednesday 10 October, 2012 - 11:36 AM - Do they have a soccer competition in Australia? I have never heard of one what is the derby you are refering to? The minor little sport doesn't even register on the radar in Australia and doesn't even warrant media coverage beach volleyball is bigger and attract larger crowds. Soccer puts me to sleep, such a slow boring game lacking any form of excitement, watching grass grow is more action packed.

    Monica Wednesday 10 October, 2012 - 2:29 PM
  • First its the pollies and union leaders caught stealing with no consequence, now, footballers ambitions excusing illegal behaviour. Our society has gone MAD!

    ANIMAL FARM Wednesday 10 October, 2012 - 2:25 PM
  • It is the courts that are to blame. People from all walks of life, not just footballers are getting off after comiting crimes with no punishment. The thugs and criminals of society have the full backing and blessings of the courts and will be protected from the evil law abiding citizens.

    Roger Wednesday 10 October, 2012 - 2:23 PM
  • another case of one law for the afl and one for the rest of us......

    chris watts Wednesday 10 October, 2012 - 2:18 PM

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