In Melbourne, the County Court (AFL Division) has disappointed once again in releasing violent AFL bruisers onto our streets. Three dickheads who went on a bashing spree in Federation Square, leaving a trail of damage and hospitalising a number of people, have managed to dodge jail. Even the one with priors for violence. Hard to understand, isn't it. Oh, did I mention they were good at playing footy?
Collingwood's Dane Swan and Williamstown's Aaron Ramsay (VFL, footy's second-tier comp) both got off with "community-based orders". Kade Carey (from Essendon's VFL team), nephew of disgraced footballer Wayne Carey, also copped a CBO plus a suspended sentence. Here at the Speccy we've been following this case closely for some time - from crime to preliminary hearing to plea - and are mighty let down at the sentence.
Let's just step through it:
- Kade Carey "has a previous conviction for assault" (Melbourne Herald-Sun, 11/2/06). Not sure when, who or how, but this is not his first time.
- In December 2001, at Federation Square, Kade Carey inexplicably launched himself at a passing motorist.
- Kade Carey then "initiated the fight, beating up a cleaner and three security guards with the help of his two mates." (Melbourne Herald-Sun, 11/2/06).
- Kade Carey led the assault that left the cleaner and one bouncer in hospital. One witness "told police that two of the men had stopped attacking the security guards but the third had continued kicking a guard until the police arrived." (The Age, 25/1/05)
- Dane Swan and Aaron Ramsay scarpered off down St Kilda Road. Kade stayed behind and was arrested at the scene. "The court was told Carey resisted attempts to arrest him, punching a police officer in the face before being subdued by capsicum spray." (Melbourne Herald-Sun, 11/2/06).
Lauren Marriner, the driver of the vehicle, told police that she saw three men standing on the side of Flinders Street. Then one of them ran at her car.
"As I got closer to the males, I slowed down so I wouldn't hit them. As I was still moving slowly, the larger guy ran at my car, ran onto the bonnet and jumped on my windscreen 'body slam' style," Ms Marriner told police. (The Age, 25/1/05)
What absolute disgraceful conduct from these three men. Surely, this kind of public melee warrants the strongest possible condemnation from our justice system. What was the response from the County Court's Judge John Barnett?
The judge described his actions as "stupid and arrogant", but ... acknowledg[ed] that Carey was provoked.
He said Swan and Ramsay joined the fight to defend their friend. (Melbourne Herald-Sun, 11/2/06).
No comment. Readers can draw their own inferences about the implications of that. Final tally for their drunken violence spree:
- Kade Carey. No jail time. Two months suspended sentence. Fine of $3000. 200 hours of community service.
- Aaron Ramsay. No jail time. No suspended sentence. No fine. 120 hours of community service.
- Dane Swan. No jail time. No suspended sentence. No fine. 100 hours of community service.
Source: The Age, 24/1/05
Dane Swan (left), Kade Carey (middle) and Aaron Ramsay (right) at last year's hearing.
Some people may scoff at the leniency of the sentences. Well, I'm sure it's got nothing to do with these boys being good at footy. No siree, no playing favourites in this town. So presumably all citizens can attack a female motorist, a cleaner, three bouncers and a policeman. You can even put a couple in hospital (by kicking, according to one witness). Hell, even if you've got prior convictions for assault - you'll still not lose your liberty! Plus, if it's one of your idiot mates doing the offending, you can step right in and help dish out some biff without even risking so much as a fine. That'll make Victorians feel safe in public places.
It's enough to make you wonder: what does it take to get put in jail? (They probably reserve jail time for the really serious stuff - like contempt of court charges arising from questioning a judge's sentences!)
One thing I'll say in defence of the judge though: he gave Kade Carey the "toughest" of the sentences; fair enough, given the massive preponderance of his guilt in all this.
I just hope that these young men use the opportunity for the three or four weeks of "unpaid work" to do something positive for the community. No doubt it will just be signing footballs at a primary school somewhere, or pouring beers at their team's social club. But they could make a positive contribution by publicly denouncing the warped values and alcohol-fuelled violence that permeates AFL culture. Sadly, I don't think this is the last we'll be seeing of these three idiots.
In a first for The Speccy, we've published a long interview with the ringleader of this sordid affair, Kade Carey. Kade speaks about the circumstances of the assault, the court case and the fall-out on the rest of his life.
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