Footballer jailed for ‘thuggery’ over broken jaw loses bid to serve time at home

A B-grade suburban footballer jailed for breaking a grand final opponent’s jaw in an act of “senseless violence” has failed in his bid to serve his prison term at home.

Key points:

  • Mark Thomas Alan Harrison punched an opponent during a suburban league grand final
  • The injured player was hospitalised and requires ongoing dental work
  • Harrison sought to appeal against his jail sentence, but that was rejected

Mark Thomas Alan Harrison previously pleaded guilty to causing harm over the punch, which he inflicted while playing for Christies Beach Football Club against Flagstaff Hill in Adelaide’s Southern Football League in 2018.

He was sentenced to one year and 10 months in prison, with a non-parole period of 11 months, but sought permission to appeal, claiming the sentence was excessive and he should have been granted home detention.

But the Court of Appeal has now ruled that prison time for the behind-the-play punch is justified, saying “this kind of thuggery, on or off the sporting field, will not be tolerated by the community”.

“The blow was struck behind the play,” Justices Mark Livesey and Sophie David wrote in their judgement.

The Supreme Court previously heard the incident occurred at the end of a scuffle, with Harrison approaching opponent Nicholas Bailey and punching him with a “left hook to his face”.

Bailey, a leading goal kicker for Flagstaff Hill, sustained “lacerations to his mouth and displaced teeth, together with two fractures to his lower jaw requiring surgery to insert plates and screws”, the judgement stated.

He spent four nights in hospital, and his lower jaw was fitted with titanium plates which will stay there permanently.

“He was unable to work for six weeks and will require ongoing dental work,” the judgement stated.

Justices Livesey and David wrote that the sentencing judge “rightly described the applicant’s assault as cowardly and completely unacceptable” and imposed the sentence in recognition that “thuggish and impulsive outbursts of violence must be deterred”.

Harrison, who has since been banned from playing football, has an extensive criminal record that includes assaults and an aggravated offence of causing harm at a hotel in 2009.

Justices Livesey and David refused permission to appeal.

“The sentence which was imposed was well within the range of acceptable outcomes,” they wrote.



Author: Ivan Robinson