The AFL has appealed the decision made by the Tribunal regarding Bacher Houli’s mild suspension due to his being found guilty of intentionally causing Jed Lamb becoming unconscious when he hit him. The public outcry has been astounding from all areas of the footy world, with most saying it was not nearly long enough, to those saying Houli should have only been given one week, given his clean record.
So I did some research and based on the door that Houli’s lawyers opened when they brought in outside character witnesses, assuming that they believed were relevant, that had nothing to do with what happened on the field. So, I too have looked outside of the footy world.
According to the Criminal Act of Victoria, section 17 states that causing serious injury recklessly whereby “a person who, without lawful excuse, recklessly causes serious injury to another person is guilty of an indictable offence. Penalty: Level 4 imprisonment (15 years maximum.” So let’s say that on the footy field, he is allowed to try and get the player that is tagging him out of the way. Section 18 Causing injury intentionally or recklessly, “A person who, without lawful excuse, intentionally or recklessly causes injury to another person is guilty of an indictable offence. Penalty: If the injury was caused intentionally – level 5 imprisonment (10 years maximum); If the injury was caused recklessly, level 6 imprisonment (5 years maximum).” Then there is Section 16, Causing serious injury intentionally, “A person who, without lawful excuse, intentionally causes serious injury to another person is guilty of an indictable office, Penalty Level 3 imprisonment (20 years maximum).”
So based on the findings of the Tribunal his action was intentional, even if it was, based on the Criminal Act, lawful because it was part of the game.
In the AFL the rules regarding the Tribunal are that any decisions are based on their discretion being the “Controlling Body”. Some are saying they did this to the letter of that rule. Yet under the AFL rules, section C, 2.1 states that the Controlling Body includes the AFL, any league, association of body responsible for the organisation and conduct of Matches of Australian Football, who has determined to play such Matches in accordance with these Laws.
In section 19 of the AFL Rules, specifically 19.2 Reportable Offences, specifically 19.2.1 Degree of Intent states that in part b “The Tribunal or other body appointed to hear and determine the report may find the report proven if it is reasonably satisfied that the conduct was either intentional, reckless or negligent.
Those who are saying that the Controlling Body, the Tribunal made their decision and it must be adhered to are wrong, because the AFL is part of that Controlling Body and can therefore justifiably over-rule a decision made by the Tribunal. The reason is that with the AFL being part of the Controlling Body, it does not agree that given that the Tribunal were satisfied that the conduct was intentional, reckless or negligent that the sentence fitted the crime.
I have no issue with Houli’s good record, whatsoever and I firmly believe that he is a decent person who does a lot for the community, but he has crossed a line with regard to allowing outside footy people to stand up for him and vouch for his character. One has nothing to do with the other.
If we go by the letter of the law in both the AFL and of Victoria, because remember he brought in outside witnesses, then he should at the very least be suspended for minimum 6 weeks. If he had done this off the field, he would be charged and probably get a small prison sentence due to his unblemished character. Remember Lamb was behind Houli and in a criminal context, that would be deemed unlawful because Houli's intention was to, with a closed fist, get him away. The point I am trying to make is that he knocked someone unconscious before he hit his head on the field. That player now will not probably play for at least another two to three weeks, why should that person be unable to play more than the person who hit him?
The AFL has every right under the rules to appeal and it will be interesting to see what will come of this. Those who disagree, if that was one of your players lying on the ground what would you want done and is two weeks enough