A man on parole for holding a gun to the head of a shop assistant during an armed robbery broke a 17-year-old’s jaw in an off-the-ball incident during a senior football match on Saturday.
Heathmere’s Will Pickett copped a three-match suspension from the South West District Football League independent tribunal on Tuesday night after pleading not guilty to an intentionally striking charge.
In 2014 Pickett was sentenced to six years and nine months jail with a non-parole period of four years and three months on nine charges, including armed robbery, recklessly causing injury, theft and drug possession after a violent supermarket robbery. He has posted on Facebook images of his parolee ankle monitor bracelets. Video footage of the sickening incident was presented to the tribunal.
Victim, Branxholme-Wallacedale’s Sam Lambevski, suffered a broken jaw.
His father, Tony, is seething and wants to take legal action against Pickett and the league for failing to protect his son.
"The fact that the league can let a bloke who is on parole play football against kids raised alarms with me,” Tony said.
"Why weren't we notified? I wouldn't have let my son play if I knew. Was his parole officer at the game? Did he see what happened? It's not good enough."
The outraged father said he would not let the matter go until he believed justice had been done.
"We will see what other action we can take because I don’t think AFL Western District and the tribunal has taken the appropriate action,” he said.
"Sam has made a police statement and it will be investigated. I am consulting with my solicitor in Melbourne because I think the league has failed with its duty of care and we'll look to take legal action against the league and player involved.”
Tony said he believed AFL Western District had not only failed his son, but failed itself.
"It had the perfect opportunity to send a message to the rest of the community and it failed to do so,” he said.
"It should have sent the message that this type of behavior is not acceptable and that it will be punished severely. Instead it sends the message that these actions are acceptable and that you can strike someone behind play and you'll only get a lean sentence.
“My son's aren’t playing in south west league anymore.
“And i’ll be telling other parents that I recommend they not let their kids play in the league because they don't protect young kids.”
AFL Western District region general manager Kate Williamson said there was no place for incidents like this in the league.
And that AFL Western District and the South West District Football Netball League would continue to work with its members to “ensure a same environment is provided for everyone involved in our game”.
“Violence is never acceptable on or off the field,” she said.
“Our role is to proved a safe and inclusive environment to ensure everyone feels comfortable to play our game. Players need to be responsible for their own behaviour. We will continue to work with all stakeholders to ensure this is achieve.
“Any player, official or club that operates outside what is acceptable behavior would be dealt with as per the league rules.”
Williamson added that the independent tribunal hearing followed “correct process as per the AFL rules”.
“The officiating umpire made a report on the day and an Independent Tribunal hearing was convened to hear the case,” she said.
“The Independent Tribunal has performed its role in this matter. As with all tribunal outcomes, players/ clubs have the right to an appeal process if they choose to take this option up.”
Heathmere was contacted for comment but declined.