UPDATE: Collingwood president Eddie McGuire has given his backing to Magpie defender Marley Williams, who was yesterday convicted of grievous bodily harm on a man whose jaw he broke outside a nightclub.
Williams had denied using his regular boxing training as a professional athlete when he landed a blow that broke Matthew Robertson's jaw outside a nightclub during a Christmas trip home to Albany in 2012.
Williams’ family and supporters slumped in their seats and wept as the jury at Albany District Court delivered the verdict following more than two-and-a-half hours of deliberations.
Today, McGuire offered support to Williams, who faces a jail sentence for the assault.
“Marley defended himself by throwing one punch,” McGuire told Triple M radio in Melbourne today.
“Marley fervently believes he was defending himself and that he was in danger of copping a hiding outside and that these guys had been into him all through the night.
“But the jury sat for two and a half hours and came up with a different verdict to that.”
Judge Julie Wager told the jury they could find Williams guilty of grievous bodily harm, or an alternative charge of assault occasioning bodily harm.
The 12-person jury panel found Williams guilty of the more serious charge, which carries a possible maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
He will be sentenced in April.
Prosecutors applied to have Williams jailed until the sentencing hearing, but that was refused by the judge.
Instead Williams was bailed, with conditions he report weekly to Richmond police station.
Justice Wager did warn Williams that the offence was one that would ordinarily attract an immediate prison term.
Outside court, neither Williams nor his lawyers commented about the verdict.
Williams, who had pleaded not guilty to causing Matthew Robertson grievous bodily harm, admitted in the Albany District Court that he understood key elements of boxing because of his Collingwood training program.
During his cross-examination, prosecutor Tony Loudon claimed Williams had changed his stance from being flat-footed to a position of core balance and power when he struck the blow that broke Mr Robertson’s jaw in two places.
The 20-year-old vigorously denied the assertion.
“The whole time I was acting in self-defence,” he said as the case for both sides was concluded.
Williams said he had lashed out with a reflex punch as Mr Robertson and his friend Ian Parry, who he said had assaulted him in an earlier confrontation in the nightclub toilet, moved aggressively towards him.
“I knew they were after me,” he said. “I was scared from what they did in the toilet, I didn’t want to get beaten up again.”
Williams, who said he was not injured in the toilet, admitted he had left key details from the night out of a police interview an hour after the incident because he was tired and uncomfortable and just wanted to go home.
Mr Loudon argued he had later changed his evidence once he had been told the gravity of the injuries he had caused. He claimed Williams’ evidence in court was “utterly inconsistent” with the video record of his police interview.
Williams, who said he had undergone a shoulder reconstruction five months before the incident, denied a claim by Mr Loudon that he had punched the wrong person as Mr Robertson had not been involved in the earlier incident in the toilet.
Video footage of the incident played to the court appeared to show Mr Robertson had his arms folded when he was struck. Williams said the man’s arms were not folded at the time of his blow’s impact.