A footballer on parole for a violent armed robbery who broke a teenager's jaw in an on-field attack has avoided further jail time.
William Pickett, 28, of Griffith Street, Heywood, has been given a community corrections order after he was found guilty of one charge of recklessly causing injury in Portland Magistrates Court on Tuesday following a three-day contested hearing last year.
The charges related to an incident on July 28, 2018 when Pickett struck then 17-year-old Sam Lambevski during the last quarter of a South West District Football League match between Heathmere and Branxholme-Wallacedale.
Lambevski, now 18, suffered a broken jaw and cheekbone.
In a court hearing in September, lawyer Michael Kats indicated Pickett would plead not guilty to the offence on the grounds he acted in self-defence after he saw Lambevski running towards him at speed and calling him a derogatory name.
Then in October, during the last day of the contested hearing, Mr Kats said the magistrate could not be sure beyond reasonable doubt that Lambevski's injury was caused by Pickett and not in another melee that broke out between the two coaches boxes towards the end of the match.
But magistrate Mark Stratmann said on Tuesday that he was satisfied Lambevski's injury was caused by Pickett and that the offender did not act in self-defence.
He said Pickett had "other options" when Lambevski began running towards him, such as moving away or retreating from the situation.
"(Pickett) did neither," the magistrate said.
"In my view, his response indicated an intention to use the circumstances for retaliation and aggression, rather than self-defence."
At the time of the offending, Pickett was on parole after he was sentenced in 2014 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 where he held a gun to a teenager's head.
That parole period was set to end in September this year but Tuesday's guilty verdict will mean Pickett will have to serve the remainder of the sentence.
A Corrections Victoria spokeswoman said that despite the new offending, Pickett's compliance on parole had been positive.
So much so that his curfew and electronic monitoring bracelet had been removed, she told the court.
Magistrate Mark Stratmann said although the offending occurred during a football game, it did not relieve Pickett of his criminal liability.
He said football players consented to physical contact, including tackling and bumping, but Pickett's behaviour was unacceptable.
"Many people playing football at all levels in the state are regarded as role models for younger people, that's a serious responsibility," he said.
The magistrate said the offending was serious but he was impressed with Pickett's positive progress on parole.
"You're going to be subject to penalty because of this finding but I don't want to be completely discouraging of you because the documents I have read today are positive," he said.
"You are a young Aboriginal man with great potential for leadership and I'd ask you to think about that and to continue doing things as you have since you were released on parole."
Pickett was placed on a 12-month community corrections order with the condition he complete 150 hours of unpaid community work.
He was also fined $750 after he pleaded guilty to breaching his parole.
Sam's father, Tony, said the Lambevski family was happy with the sentence.
"We just want to move on from here," he said.
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