Father told to pay umpire $1000 over assault
Michele Galea, fined $2000 and ordered to pay umpire $1000 over junior match assault. Picture: Stever Ferrier

A father of four is $3000 out of pocket after being found guilty today of assaulting an amateur umpire at his son's junior football game.

Michele Galea, 44, was convicted of assault causing bodily harm in the Joondalup Magistrate's Court after a two-day trial earlier this month.

Magistrate Steve Sharratt found Galea had pushed and then struck field umpire Stephen Clark under his ear in a "sudden upward" movement with a fist or open palm.

The confrontation happened at half time during an under-14s game between Quinns Rocks and Yanchep at Anthony Waring Oval in Clarkson in July 2010.

But although Mr Sharratt was "suspicious" that Galea had also kicked Mr Clark while he was on the ground, he said that allegation could not be proven beyond reasonable doubt.

Mr Sharratt said he "didn't believe anything (Galea) said" in his evidence after "lies" in his video record of interview with police weakened his credibility.

Galea's lawyer Kevin Tannage said his client had already been punished enough because the WA Football Commission had slapped him with a lifetime ban, meaning he misses out on the joy of watching his three sons play the game.

Mr Sharratt fined Galea $2000 and ordered him to pay another $1000 to Mr Clark, saying a strong message needed to be sent to the community that parents losing self-control and violence erupting at junior sports events would not to be tolerated.

Mr Tannage said this incident was a "one-off" for Galea, a self-employed business owner, and it was an "anomaly in his character." He said Galea had also suffered ridicule and embarrassment from the media coverage of this case.

Mr Clark said Galea, a volunteer boundary umpire whose son played for the Quinns Rocks team, approached him in the middle of the oval and told him he had taken photos of him making bad umpiring decisions.

He said when he told Galea he would be issued with a red card, Galea pushed him to the ground and when he got back to his feet he was punched and then kicked. Galea claimed he had only kicked the ground.

Mr Sharratt said Galea was "shifty" in his video record of interview with police, when he told officers he had no contact with Mr Clark and was set upon by people from the Yanchep side and tackled to the ground.

Mr Sharratt said Galea's version "changed radically" at trial, with the accused man telling the court he approached Mr Clark to apologise for a mistake in his umpiring duties but Mr Clark verbally abused him so he lightly pushed him away. He claimed Mr Clark "staged" his fall and was injured when he was tackled by others.

Many witnesses testified at the trial, but Mr Sharratt said the majority of those people supported Mr Clark's version of events and afforded them more weight.

But he said he could not rule out some of Mr Clark's injuries may have been caused when Galea was tackled by others.

Outside court today, Mr Clark said he was happy with the verdict and relieved the incident was over.

"Parents have to get the message loud and clear that you come to junior sport to encourage your children and that's it - you don't have a go at umpires, you don't have a go at other players, you don't even have a go at the kids if they make mistakes," he said.

"It certainly left a mark and it's very difficult to keep going with the umpiring when these sorts of things happen. Every time you umpire when someone approaches you or has a go at you, you tend to think about this.

"The only reason that I've kept umpiring is that my young son is umpiring and I didn't want to quit because of this, but I don't see much life left in umpiring now."

Galea refused to comment as he left court.

The West Australian

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