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Monday, March 26, 2007

Brodie Holland Avoids Conviction

In a powerful signal that footballers are beyond the law, Brodie Holland has escaped conviction for punching out a young woman in public. His fiancee, Sarita Stella, and another accomplice are likely to plead guilty in a later hearing. Holland walked away with hardly any sanction at all for his violent assault on the much smaller and weaker victim: just a very modest fine.

News that the Collingwood media-performer, eye-candy man and occasional footballer first struck a woman emerged shortly after the December, 2005 incident. His hearing was scheduled for March, 2006. This was not acceptable, so it was pushed back to after the Grand Final. This still couldn't work, so it was pushed back yet again to March, 2007. Many might condemn that it can take almost 18 months to deliver justice in a straight-forward case. Honestly, the Melbourne Magistrates Courts (AFL Division) should be jolly well happy that Holland's people were able to schedule in his hearing at all. He's an important, busy guy with a lot on his plate.

After Holland was able to finally squeeze in the court case, the details emerged. Sarita Stella and her friend Brooke Hawken fought with another woman, Catherine Hill (no relation), outside the Billboards nightclub over a taxi cab. The court heard that Hawken opened the door, which hit Hill, and it was on between the three women. Not content with a mere two-to-one advantage, Holland intervened, perhaps acting on a "swarming" instinct :

After some time Holland stepped into the fracas, grabbing Ms Hill from behind and declaring: "What the f--k are you doing, you stupid slut?" When Ms Hill shrugged off Holland's tackle, he put her in a headlock, but she then bit him on the stomach.

"The stupid slut bit me," the footballer said and responded with a punch to
Ms Hill's head which, according to one witness, left her with her eyes rolling back into her head.

Holland pleaded guilty to one count of recklessly causing injury with the blow, which his lawyer Terry Forrest, QC, said was an over-reaction the footballer now regretted. (The Age, 26/3/2007)

Gee, what a gallant guy. A huge, hulking, professional sportsmen punches a young woman in the head. And gets away with it more-or-less unscathed. Magistrate Duncan Reynolds saw fit to ensure no conviction was recorded for the violent assault, being satisfied that a paltry fine amounting to much less than 1% of Holland's annual income would suffice.

Was this wise? The last AFL player caught hitting a woman in the head at a nightclub was Heath Scotland. The magistrate in that case - Paul Smith - let Scotland escape conviction too, apparently to ensure he could pursue a firefighting career (!?). A few months later, Scotland is once again facing allegations of ... yep, punching a woman in the head out the front of a pub in Ballarat.

Brodie Holland is no stranger to the courts, having been fined over other offences. He's also frequently in front of the AFL's own judiciary for violence and is likely to be suspended for a month or more for his recent on-field behaviour. Despite this, Magistrate Reynolds reckoned Holland is a good bet owing to his volunteer work with the homeless. This does beg the question: exactly how much volunteering must one do in order to punch women in the head and be safe from any conviction? Presumably, at least as much as Scotland and Holland have managed.

An interesting side-effect of this inordinately lengthy delay in justice has been that Sarita Stella (formerly of The Price is Right) was given plenty of breathing room to get her business, Model Behaviour, off the ground. She's been spruiking her products and services on telly, in the papers - even been a "racing ambassador" (sans diplomatic immunity, apparently) - all without having to answer any awkward questions about her role in the assault. Lucky girl.

Speaking of being blessed with free publicity, Brodie "Dutchy" Holland (and his amazing abs) was made famous on Channel 7's Dancing With The Stars. No word yet on whether or not he will try to restore his image with another appearance. Hell, if it works for Holland then Ben Cousins should give Dancing On Ice a go ...

*** UPDATE ***

Brodie Holland's girlfriend Sarita Stella has followed the path of her wayward man with a conviction in the Melbourne Magistrates Courts (AFL Division) for her role in this fracas.

Sadly, a media blackout seems to be in force right now, with The Age, The Herald-Sun, NineMSN and the ABC all rejecting coverage of this story. No doubt Stella's business selling "chicken liver" bra implants, "Hollywood tape" and other breast-related products would be threatened by bad press. Funny - these outlets are happy enough to run story after story involving shots of her artifically enhanced cleavage.

Thankfully, I did catch a brief story on Channel Ten news last night (I guess they didn't get the memo yet). I recall she was convicted and fined $500 - but if anyone's got a source I'd be happy to quote it.

If there is a media ban deal in place, then we can expect our screens to be saturated by Sarita Stella making a boob out of herself.

Citations: The Age, 26/3/2007

Word Count: 936

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  • so if someone was to collate a file that had afl players convictions versus the jo public convictions, especially if there are priors involved and there is clear evidence of bias, is there a judicial body that it could be presented to for evaluation ?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:06 pm, March 26, 2007  

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  • Short answer: I don't know. But I know someone who would. I'll report back.

    I do know you'd have to be extremely careful about something like that ...

    Any suggestions that a particular judicial figure was biased in a specific case would attract contempt of court charges and defamation suits.

    The main problem would lie in proving it. The chance of finding two cases tried by the same judge/magistrate that are exactly the same in all respects (except one was a footballer and one wasn't) is zero.

    Instead, you'd have to look at it statistically. Courts (appellate or otherwise) are not well-placed to receive statistical models owing to the background and qualifications of the people involved.

    Loosely speaking, in Australia the parliaments have oversight over the judiciary. How far would a parliamentarian get in mounting a campaign that the courts are being too soft on super-star footy heroes?

    This past fortnight notwithstanding, I reckon most swing-voters in the marginal seats would let the AFL conduct weekly human sacrifices if they asked for it.

    Hell, half of them would bicker and fight over who got to go first!

    By Blogger Greg, at 10:27 pm, March 26, 2007  

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  • Yes realise that it is quite tough and sure there would be plenty of lawyers willing to support these morons. I always knew they got away with these things but the extent of it is frankly overwhelming. Although it is a murdoch paper you feel like putting the sun in the UK onto these idiots. May not be the best solution but boy they would make their life miserable. As you say doubtful any politician would want to stand up to them as there would be an army of beanies confronting them at the ballot box. The consistency of the leniency showed to these people somehow does warrant further investigation. I have got to say that your blog has made me aware of things that have frankly shocked me to the bone. Not that footballers misbehave, but that no-one seems to really care. A bit of fun is ok, but the consistency and the depth of the misbehaviour is incredible. Really makes you want to do something about it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:57 am, March 27, 2007  

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  • Not sure where you got your version of events but the way heard it, the woman grabbed his girfriend by the hair and tried to drag her out of a cab that they jumped the queue of.

    He tried to hold in a head lock and she bit him.

    So he punched her in the head, which is assault.

    Put yourself into that situation and tell me how you'd handle it? Its gonna be ugly no matter what.

    I've got no sympathy for AFL players behaving badly but neither have I sympathy for people who drag other people around by the hair and bite people. Nor have I for others that target AFL players.

    I lived with an AFL player ten years ago (platonic) and he just didn't go out at night because there were so many wankers out there wanting to have a crack at him. Get a few beers into them, try to be a hero in front of their mates and take on the AFL player. I think you will find the majority of AFL players just stay away from it all.

    You seem to think these guys have to be role models. Rubbish. They are just like every other rich person, which means a certain % are arseholes.

    But then I guess if you didn't think AFL players had to be pillars of the community, then you wouldn't have much to write about.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:06 pm, March 27, 2007  

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  • Wow. It appears that she deserved to get punched in the head by a much bigger and stronger man. How dare she bite him, while being restrained in a violent headlock. What was she thinking? If you take that argument to it's logical conclusion domestic violence is fine because a woman who defends herself against a violent husband deserves it. How would I handle it. Firstly, I would not jump a cab queue as I don't have such an ego that I feel that I am more worthy of a cab than the next person. Secondly, If somebody pulled my partner out of a cab by the hair, I would try and separate them and then see if their were any authorities around to have her arrested for assault. Failing that I would let her have the cab, take the number and then report the incident to the police and have the hair pulling maniac released. I think most reasonable people would respond in a similar fashion.

    I am sure there are two sides to the story. Was the victim charged with assault ? Pulling by the hair in that sort of manner is an assault. Did the police make a mistake ?

    I am sure there are some very good AFL players who stay home with their partners, tuck their children into bed and live what most people consider good lives. My issue is that the ones who do misbehave seem not to be punished by their club, the code or the judicial system. If another ' rich person' who had a lower profile behaved in such a fashion, they would be vilified by the media. Not these guys, there just young and boisterous, so that is ok.

    On being goaded by morons, do you think they are the only sporting celebrities around the place that happens to ? They get enough benefits to ignore morons who want to pick fights with them.

    I personally don't think AFL players are role models. It is a shame that the media and the clubs promote them as such. Whether you, me or other people like it or not a lot of 10 year old boys and girls do think of these people as role models. It is very sad that a few idiots do taint an overall community, but the injustice of them being able to keep repeating their behaviour and not being punished is the thing I find most objectionable.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:46 pm, March 27, 2007  

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  • Well, you heard wrong.

    I suggest you read the article in The Age.

    It's clear that Holland's fiancee's friend first struck the other woman with a car door. Then there were two people fighting against one. Holland intervened (three onto one) and in court admitted he over-reacted.

    Holland's fiancee and her friend are expected to plead guilty in six weeks. The other woman was not even charged.

    Honestly, how you can twist this around beggars belief.

    I'm sure that AFL players occasionally cop abuse while out. No-one is saying that's what happened here. Not even his lawyer or chief apologist Eddie McGuire.

    Yes, AFL players are role models. Ask any group of kids or young adults. Players might not like it, yet they keep turning up to photo shoots and footy clinics and other community appearances.

    I think the arsehole rate amongst footballers is much higher than for rich people in general. Reading these pages would persuade an open-minded person of the same.

    By Blogger Greg, at 10:48 pm, March 27, 2007  

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  • While I'm sure our friend Greg is equally repulsed by rugby league players as well (I'm an NRL man living in Melbourne and loathe AFL) the one thing that does not even out about this is that if Holland was a rugby league player, he'd be out of the competition on his ear for an incident like this.

    Last year Tevita Latu (now playing in the English Super League) broke a woman's nose. He was remorseful but promptly had his contract torn up by his then club, Cronulla-Sutherland. He faced court and was initially sentenced to periodic detention. He later had the charge "downgraded" and performed community service.

    It's not the actual injury sustained in either case, but the severity of the issue and evental punishment that proves the AFL is so far under-developed in controlling the bahavior of reprobates such as Brodie Holland.

    Had he been at an NRL club there would have been no awaiting a verdict, Holland would have been punted from his club and deregistered from the competition. The court case would have come later.

    Instead, he's free; he'll go out, get his gear off, oil up, do some bordering-on-homoerotic art, ladies will squeal and he'll be forgiven.

    But the whole finding was a joke. He gets off 'cos he works with the homeless? Fine, I'm gonna go work with the homeless then hit a woman. Let's see how far that defense would get me! Worse than the Heath Scotland defense!

    If the AFL had any balls they'd get rid off him. Problem is they are too busy chasing the female and pink dollars.

    I mean, the guy is entitled to make a living and seeing as the cruddy sport is limited to professionalism in one country he'd have to look elsewhere for employment.

    But I guess, like Latu, he'll forever have to deal with the shame of being labelled as a woman basher!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:11 am, March 30, 2007  

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  • Luke

    couldn't agree more. The AFL have no standards when t comes to things like this. In any professional sporting code this guy would be out of his club and playing in some no name league. It is a shame that Melbourne is so blighted by moral hypocrisy that it won't take those steps.

    By Blogger Simon, at 3:12 am, March 30, 2007  

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  • Sadly, there's no shame in being a woman basher in the AFL. Not from his peers, his employer, the media nor the fans.

    When Heath Scotland was accused of bashing a woman for the second time, he was out drinking with a bunch of teammates - hardly a man shunned by the football community.

    I think the footballers just don't care about the off-field legal system - it can't touch them in any way that matters.

    The AFL's own judiciary benched Holland for six weeks for an on-field incident that resulted in less damage than to this young woman. That's what puts the fear of God into them and their employers.

    If AFL clubs followed other codes and sanctioned players for their off-field behaviour, it would certainly drive up the standards. But this would only happen if the members and fans demanded it.

    What does it say about our game when rugby league fans expect (and get) a higher standard of behaviour?

    By Blogger Greg, at 11:58 am, March 30, 2007  

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  • While my game has been not gone untouched by scandal similar to the AFL I'm actually encouraged when the National Rugby League and it's clubs actually adopts a zero tolerance policy on certain things.

    I do not want my game represented by rapists, drug takers, woman bashers, drunks and lunatics and it reflects badly on the game and it's fans so I'm glad when the NRL sends them packing.

    Pity the AFL don't seem interested in doing the same thing.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:29 pm, April 03, 2007  

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  • It will be interesting to see how the ARL deal with the Gibbs guy who caused a fuss at the golden slipper. sure it will be more than the AFL would do

    By Blogger Simon, at 10:45 pm, April 04, 2007  

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  • the eagles say they have a clean club, but for at least 10 years they have employed the brother of the sergeant-at-arms of the coffin cheaters to rev (verbally - not with horse chaff) the crowd up during each break, and act as MC. He is at most club functions as well.
    If they were as clean as they say maybe they should remove connections to convicted drug dealers and bikie gangs. the same MC shares offices with a security firm that has had its licensed revoked for connections to bikies.
    If drugs have been at the club for ten years maybe they should look at who they employed 10 years ago and see if that had an influence on the alleged drug culture at the club. And even maybe just for the sake of appearing to give a shit they should get rid of this guy.. very poor form.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:00 pm, April 12, 2007  

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  • While the preceeding comment should probably go on the post examining the Eagle's melt-down or the open letter to the league's drug dealers, it makes a good point.

    In the interests of balance, it's worth pointing out that close connections with drug dealers have a benefit for the club: cheaper drugs means lower player salaries.

    Was Ben Cousins shouldering the full retail price for cocaine and ice? Even with bulk discounts, having a few friendly dealers on side would help with prices.

    Imagine how much more Cuzzie would have needed to be paid had he not been paying "mates rates" for his addiction.

    The AFL's drug dealers have an integral role to perform in helping clubs stay under the salary cap.

    While it's not an argument I imagine many clubs would advance, it's still worth point out.

    By Blogger Greg, at 5:10 pm, April 12, 2007  

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  • Saritta is a vicious person, I went to TAFE with her mind you she dropped out of Beauty therapy school at VU... guess the 1 year was too much for her to handle lol! You should have seen what she said to customers... one woman had stretch marks and Sarita said 'what the hell are they... like ringworks".. and then "thats gross, hope i never get that foul"... That POOR customer was so upset she left in tears.

    Please note in 2001 when we did the course her Boobs must have been a B cup... as opposed to the fake implants she now has.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:58 am, August 18, 2010  

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