A brawl that twice erupted during last year’s AFL Grand Final has finally ended, with the final offender sentenced to 30 months in prison.
Richard Clarke has been jailed for a drunken attack on Aaron Lloyd at the Langwarrin Hotel, in the south Melbourne suburb of Langwarrin. Video showed Clarke punch Lloyd nine times in a few seconds, leaving him unconscious after the first blow and resulting in a fractured eye socket, broken nose, broken tooth, and multiple deep facial lacerations requiring 40 stitches.
County Court Judge Lance Pilgrim described Clarke’s behaviour as “despicable” and warned that drunken behaviour causing serious injury in licenced premises would be denounced by courts “in the strongest terms”.
Pilgrim also criticised the hotel management and security for failing to eject the men involved after a previous incident.
During the Grand Final between Hawthorn and Sydney on 27 September, two groups of men that had been drinking in the hotel for some time began a brawl and were separated. A few hours later, after the game, the groups – who had continued drinking since the first incident – clashed again.
Prosecutor John Livitsanos told the Court security guards immediately moved to separate the fighting men again, during which Clarke and Lloyd became entangled on the floor.
“Clarke immediately straddled Lloyd across his waist and punched him nine times in quick succession to the face with a closed fist,” said Livitsanos.
Clarke pleaded guilty to the charge of recklessly causing serious injury and of affray, for which he has faced Court previously, in 2009.
Counsel for the defence, Tom Sawyer, offered a psychiatrist’s report that Clarke was highly intoxicated and used alcohol to treat depression, and read an apology from his client that spoke of his deep shame.
Clarke was the tenth man to face charges over the incident. The Age reports all the others have received jail sentences or fines.