Convicted hoon and Adelaide Crows midfielder, Scott Thompson, has been found guilty of driving offences after hospitalising a mate. However, the resulting $50 good behaviour bond meted out by the justice system offers scant deterrence to future lapses by other footballers. What sort of a message does this send?
The incident was on November 2, 2007. Thompson - who was allegedly sober - offered to drive three mates home in a car belonging to Adam Samson, one of the group. Sadly and predictably, he engaged in what the court described as "burn-outs". Even more sadly (and slightly less predictably), he crashed the car into a pole, injuring Adam Samson. Samson required surgery.
At this point Thompson "panicked" and a passenger claimed to be driving in his stead. This lie was supported by the fourth person in the car.
To his credit, Thompson did come forward to police shortly after and confessed he was driving. It would be interesting to know the motives for his change of heart, but we can only speculate. Did he speak to a lawyer? A club official? A PR adviser? Who knows?
Thompson, 25, pleaded guilty to one count of causing serious harm by dangerous driving, and one count of leaving an accident scene after causing serious harm.
In sentencing, [Port Adelaide Magistrate Paul] Foley said the crash occurred on Coral Sea Rd, Fulham, on November 2.
He said he would have jailed Thompson for six months, but reduced that to four months because of his guilty plea.
He suspended the sentence on condition Thompson enter into a $50 good behaviour bond and be disqualified from driving for 12 months. (AdelaideNow, 9/7/2008)
Just to emphasise the lameness and futility in putting a professional footballer (average income: $250K+) on a $50 bond into perspective, a well-ranked player and Brownlow contender like Thompson could be earning $50 every hour of every day of the year. I mean, why bother? Either make it substantial or it's just an insult to other motorists.
The press release issued by the Adelaide Crows is equally offensive. In it, Thompson expresses the insensitive notion that "this exercise has been a great learning curve for me" and he's looking forwards to "passing on his experience with others".
Somewhat bizarrely, he's been given a role coordinating the "Learn to Drive Safely" program for younger players. I believe the standard text in this subject is by Darren Millane. Perhaps David Teague can step in for a guest lecture on blaming the floor mat when you render someone a quadriplegic. And I'm sure Michael Gardiner can offer a few tips on safe driving while we're at it.
Meanwhile the club has stepped into remedy the lack of punishment by issuing a more credible $5,000 fine (around half a week's pay). Oh, but they suspended the fine. So (as I understand it) he's not actually paying it. And they put him on volunteer duties for his sins (what message does that send the kids?) and the spin doctors are keen to emphasise this started before the court case. Back in April. You know, six months after the crime. But it's not just to look good in front of the beak, honest!
Bah. Criminally stupid and reckless behaviour. A culture of lies and cover-ups. Token slap on the wrist by the courts. Spin and bullshit from club officials. And another young player shrugs off the consequences and is cheered onto the field.
Citations: AdelaideNow, 9/7/2008
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