Essendon's PR flaks have got their hands full with young footballer Andrew Lovett facing startling allegations of hostage-taking and bashing by his ex-girlfriend in a case with eerie parallels with another high-profile player.
Kimberlie Watson, a receptionist and part-time promotions model, made the allegations during an application for an intervention order last year. Lovett was in court this week following an alleged breach of that order. Lovett's not the first AFL player to end up in court over domestic violence (eg Colin Sylvia and Ashley Sampi). Nor is it the first involving a model (Alan Didak). He's not even the first to have the case against him advanced by the Herald-Sun (eg Wayne Carey). But the bizarre and violent nature of his (alleged) behaviour has blown the lid off the deepening scandal about footballers, "police immunity" and how they perceive the special privileges afforded to them under the law.
You can read the whole sordid affair over at The Hun, but the main allegations have been reproduced below:
FOOTBALLER Andrew Lovett's ex-girlfriend claims she feared she would die as he held her hostage and bashed her.
Kimberlie Watson alleges the Essendon forward locked her in his car and hit her on the head and body in a fit of rage that left her bruised and with a bloodied ear.
The receptionist and promotions model complained to police she was dragged by the hair into Lovett's blue Monaro and belted repeatedly as he drove through an industrial area in a frightening 45-minute ordeal.
Ms Watson, 24, told the Herald Sun she was scared she would be killed after ending their 10-month relationship.
"I didn't think I was going to get out of the car alive," she said.
"I could see the evil in his eyes. He wanted to hurt me."
Ms Watson was granted an intervention order against Lovett in court last April. He did not contest the making of the order and the assault allegations were not tested.
The case was adjourned to next month.
Ms Watson told the Herald Sun Lovett bombarded her with 180 text messages for two months after their tumultuous breakup on February 4 last year.
In one, he allegedly said he was a "special person" who "could probably get away with murder". (The Herald-Sun, 13/01/2007)
(For more background on the Lovett case - including disgraceful remarks by serial idiot Sam Newman - the thoughtful and balanced article by Phil Cleary is mandatory reading.)
I've never heard of this Lovett bloke before, but I'm starting to get a better picture of him via Kimberlie story:
- Bogan-wagon? A Monaro. Check.
- Model girlfriend? Well, sort of. Check.
- Violent? Bashing someone. Check.
- Dangerous driving? For 45 minutes. Check.
- Misogynistic? Attacking young woman for trying to leave him. Check.
- Spoilt brat? Believes he is a "special person" who can "get away with murder". Check.
Yep, we're dealing with a dinky-di, solid-gold footballer here. Gee, I wonder where on earth he could have picked up the idea that he was "special" and above the law? Could it be the consistent "light touch" policing? The abject failure of magistrates and judges to hold footy players to a fair standard? The fawning and sycophantic media? His Mum?
Whether or not he could actually get away with murder is a matter of some conjecture. Personally, I'm of the view that he is a low-level footballer and would struggle to get a murder swept under the rug. A hit and run? Maybe. Hey - it's not so outlandish. Certainly a number of AFL players have gotten away with stuff in the past due to police (in)action and Victoria's top cop has identified "star struck detectives" as a particular problem.
The club's PR flaks trotted out the usual tripe - blah, blah, "significant personal issues", blah, blah, "counseling", blah, blah "he can fully redeem himself". Interestingly, Essendon managing director Peter Jackson articulated the club's policy on exactly how many times a player is allowed to kidnap and bash a lover before risking sanction: once, and once only. "Andrew is under no illusion that any further behaviour such as this will be tolerated." Got that? They'll tolerate it once, but after that - no more.
While Lovett is awaiting his (next) day in court, he seems to have pulled himself together and has been enjoying himself at the tennis with a new partner. Who'd have him, you might ask? Presumably no woman who reads the newspaper (not even the Herald Sun). No problem, there's always ... Grid Girls! Fortunately Dermot Brereton's ex Ramona Pusch was available:
Slim Pickings: Grid Girl Ramona Pusch
(Source: Foster's Trackside)
Ms Pusch would do well to keep in mind Lovett's (alleged) behaviour last year and the distressing allegations of violence surfacing about that other Grid Girl who landed a big footy player, Kate Neilson. It's not all Brownlow Medal nights, arousing bogans and hours spent holding tyres in a bikini. There's an ugly side to the arrangement too.
Andrew Lovett had his day in court today for breaching the intervention order taken out against him by Kimberlie Watson:
Magistrate Elizabeth Lambden imposed the [$500 fine] without conviction today after he pleaded guilty to one count of breaching an intervention order at Melbourne Magistrates' Court.
The court heard Lovett approached Kimberlie Watson and kissed her twice at a Maribyrnong nightclub in September last year, breaching an order not to go within 10 metres of her. (The Age, 9/3/2007)
Let's all hope he's learnt his lesson, and that other footballers take note too.
It finally happened: Essendon stood up to Andrew Lovett by banning him from all pre-season matches for his bad behaviour.
The ban signals how serious new coach Matthew Knights and captain Matthew Lloyd are about cracking down on player misbehaviour.
Essendon football manager Travis Auld said yesterday Lovett had previously been warned he needed to commit himself fully to the club.
"He realises in previous years he has got away with things he shouldn't have, so he has accepted it and he is training really well. [Auld said] (Herald Sun, 23/2/2008)
So, what travesty of justice has brought this ban on? Has he been abducting, stalking, attacking, making threats to kill? Breaching intervention orders again, perhaps?
No. He missed training. So the club needed to send a powerful message. Unlike the above incidents, where his power-tripping, abuse and violence were - apparently - not at all a problem for the club.
How can Bomber fans be happy about someone like that taking to the field in their name? How can they condone officials and a leadership group that thinks it's alright?
Yeah, just shut up, sign the cheque and get the bumper sticker proclaiming how proud you are to be part of such a team.
Word Count: 1201