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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Andrew Walker Has No Shame

In four years of covering the seamy underbelly of Aussie Rules misbehaviour, Carlton's Andrew Walker has set a new bar for shameless arrogance and contempt of wider society. His crime - driving whilst unlicensed - is relatively minor by AFL standards, but his flagrant disregard for the law is truly breathtaking.

On February 22nd, 2008, Andrew Walker had his licence suspended (presumably for traffic offences). He was given a paltry $500 fine (equivalent to one morning's "work") and, naturally, no conviction was recorded. A mere eight days later, on March 1st, he was picked up by police for driving, obviously now unlicensed. He complained he was left "confused" by the Magistrates Court (AFL Division) about whether or not he was allowed to drive. (We can be quite sure there's absolutely no chance that he would be confused about the sentence from the AFL tribunal, but then, that's a legal force that actually matters to Mr Walker.)

Why on earth would he think he could get away with being "confused"? We've heard that he does a very convincing "playing dumb" act, but surely it would be hard to mount a case that, for instance, he wasn't sure who the magistrate was referring to when he was standing in the dock at the time. "Oh right, you were talking about me." or perhaps "Oh I see ... I'm suspended from driving any car. Yep, got it now." Surely any lingering confusion would have been dispelled by his own lawyer?

But let's look at some recent history. His colleague, David Teague, rendered an elderly woman a paraplegic when a borrowed hotted-up hoon wagon spun out of control early one Sunday morning. Teague successfully persuaded a magistrate that it wasn't because he cornered too quickly; no, a design fault meant that the floor mat got wedged on the accelerator.

What about Collingwood's Brody Holland - also caught driving unlicensed and on the tram tracks on Swanston St, no less - who claimed that he believed his Western Australian licence was sufficient even some five years after he allowed it to expire. What an absolute crock.

And then there's Hawthorn's Mark Williams, pinged for driving while disqualified (after earlier speeding offences). His excuse? Didn't realise his licence had been suspended. Oh, and Corey McKernan? Driving while disqualified and using a mobile phone. (He lost his licence for drink driving too, the selfish bastard.)

So, not surprisingly, Andrew Walker tried to bullshit his way out of the charge. And why not? The historical odds are good. But Magistrate Jennifer Tregent suggested that this "beggared belief". In plain English, she wasn't buying that Walker didn't realise the February suspension a) applied to him b) immediately and c) for any car. His lawyer described him as "bemused" and conceded that there was a compulsory jail sentence for disregarding the earlier suspension.

And the fallout for this egregious display of lawless contempt?

Told that Walker was a "professional athlete", [Magistrate] Ms Tregent asked what type and was informed by [Walker's solicitor] Mr Kemp he was a footballer with Carlton.

Ms Tregent suspended a one-month jail term for 12 months, suspended Walker's licence for two months, fined him $500 without conviction, and told him she did not anticipate he would drive during the suspension period. (The Age, 19/8/2008)

And here's the kicker: Andrew Walker drove his car to court to answer charges of driving unlicensed. Setting a new bar for chutzpah, he then had to have a mate give him a lift home, leaving his car behind (apparently opting out of the free priority taxi service for AFL footballers). What the hell was he thinking? Well, we know the answer to that ...

There's a distinct pattern going on here: over-privileged footballers realise that road rules and licensing requirements are for other people. They willfully break the law. They lie or act dumb or just plain old try to bluff it out. The legal sanctions have no effect. The clubs leave them be while they're kicking goals. There's no serious negative public comment. And so things get worse.

Sure, driving unlicensed is a relatively minor crime. But it speaks volumes of the general contempt and feeling of being special that can have much more sinister consequences. Let's not forget that during Essendon's Andrew Lovett's trial he allegedly said he was a "special person" who "could probably get away with murder". Outlandish? Well, Victoria's most senior detective is on record expressing doubt about his detectives' abilities to fully investigate footballers during the Heath Culpitt missing rape evidence scandal. And in one of Daniel Kerr's assault trial earlier this year, a witness gave testimony that immediately after the vicious assault Kerr told the victim "I am too good for the Eagles. They wouldn't delist me." Given the frequency with which he calls upon their services, we assume his brazenness extends to police and courts too.

This attitude must be very disheartening for police trying to do the right thing and downright scary for victims and witnesses trying to seek redress. At The Speccy, we argue that this culture of impunity and being special and above the law starts with minor traffic offences and, unchecked, culminates in serious cases of assault and rape.

Citations: The Age, 19/8/2008

Word Count: 853

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  • The original suspension in February lasted 28 days - so had ended about 4 months prior to him driving to court yesterday. Get your facts straight - he was legally entitled to drive to court.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:48 am, August 20, 2008  

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  • Of course - if you read the article you'll find I did not suggest otherwise.

    It's about what he expected to happen at court that today that belies his attitude problem.

    That is, he expected to drive home because he expected the court would buy his bullshit and he would go unpunished.

    Gee, how could he have entertained such an outlandish notion?

    By Blogger Greg, at 10:59 am, August 20, 2008  

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  • That's about the best summation of footballers' expectations when entering the legal system that I’ve ever seen. 5 stars.

    How come there isn’t an ombudsman where you can make complaints about magistrates’ handling of cases and outright favouritism? Your average Shazza and Bazza would never get off this lightly.

    By Blogger Dikkii, at 1:45 pm, August 20, 2008  

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  • I think the problem is that this is the standard judicial treatment and that it probably does work on your average Shazza or Bazza.

    The $500 fine, legal fees, taking time off work and the resulting public shaming would carry some weight and result in behaviour modification.

    Not to footballers, though: All the time in the world, hundreds of grand of income, public adulation, no sense of shame. You can see why Mark Williams just didn't even realise he'd had his licence suspended. Water off a duck's back.

    At least this particular magistrate didn't buy the bullshit and went with a (feeble, ineffective) sanction. Although, one can't help wondering why she felt the need to explicitly find out his profession. If it were to scale up the fine to, say, a month's wages (as $500 would be for your Shazza or Bazza), then fair enough. Or to assess his likelihood of re-offending and thereby not suspend his jail sentence. But since she didn't do either of these we are left wondering.

    By Blogger Greg, at 2:32 pm, August 20, 2008  

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  • The Grand Final is just around the corner; are all the athletes on their best behaviour or should people lock up their sons and daughters?

    By Blogger Nicole, at 2:36 am, September 06, 2008  

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  • Hey Greg. How come you haven't done a round up on the various mad Monday's yet? Are you waiting til after the grand final?

    By Blogger Dikkii, at 12:30 am, September 26, 2008  

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  • Why, what else has happened?

    I covered Fev's hilarious novelty dildo lark. What a whacky funster.

    Anything else I should know about? (I'm monitoring developments on the Nathan Thompson drug-test dodge story.)

    By Blogger Greg, at 12:44 am, September 26, 2008  

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  • Well nothing yet that I know, but these warrant their own posts, rather than you appending them to existing ones.

    You know that some of us rely on gossip sheets like yours for our tittilation. ;-P

    By Blogger Dikkii, at 1:24 am, September 26, 2008  

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  • If you want to monitor the situation, you can always use the "The Final Say" panel on the right to keep abreast of developments.

    For subscriptions, you can use the Speccy Updates feed, which holds these too. Maybe I could make this a bit more prominent than way down the bottom with the other badges.

    As for how to deal with updates, it's always a bit of a line-ball call. Rather than go for frequency, I try to keep posts substantial and add to them as the story develops. Most of my traffic is from people googling individual players or incidents, so I try to theme things that way. So, Fevola's on-again/off-again drinking exploits tend to go on that page rather than starting a new one each time.

    Doing it this way also means that a page that comes up on a search for eg "Carey and Neilson" or "Channel 7 medical records" or "Newman sacked" will contain all the information the searcher is looking for, as it came to light. So it acts as a sort of mini-archive of record.

    No doubt there are lots of ways to skin a cat though. Between the links, tags, category menu, update box, comment box, various feeds, email subscription and, of course, search people should be able to get what they're after.

    By Blogger Greg, at 2:38 am, September 26, 2008  

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  • Think of how intelligent your AVERAGE professional footballer is and then realise that by definition half of them are dumber than that.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:49 pm, December 22, 2008  

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  • Unfortunately boys will be boys. This is what happen when you combine money and time.

    By Anonymous Tom, at 4:32 am, September 09, 2009  

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  • Has become quite a topical article in light of the most recent events regarding the allegations made into the Milne-Montagna case.

    By Anonymous Sports News Australia, at 3:46 pm, June 22, 2010  

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  • Good post.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:45 am, January 21, 2017  

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