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Football dad guilty of headbutt assault
WA News / Mogens Johansen Football dad guilty of headbutt assault

UPDATE: 2.50PM A 40-year-old Morley man has been found guilty of assault for headbutting another man following a sideline stoush at a junior football game in Bayswater last year.

After a two-day trial in Perth Magistrate’s Court, Magistrate Geoff Lawrence today convicted James Frederick Wilkes of one count of assault occasioning bodily harm.

Wilkes and his victim Steven O’Halloran were both watching their sons’ Bayswater-Morley under-12s team play against Coolbinia Bombers on May 22 last year when the boundary line fracas erupted.

Mr O’Halloran had confronted Mr Wilkes for swearing at a young opposition player during the final quarter at Houghton Reserve in Bayswater.

Mr O’Halloran claimed in his evidence he only tried to defend himself when Wilkes became physically aggressive towards him, with the pair ending up in a wrestle before other parents intervened and broke up the fight.

Mr O’Halloran, 46, said soon after the men were separated Wilkes - who was being restrained - broke free and lunged forward, headbutting him in the nose causing it to bleed profusely.

Magistrate Lawrence said the “pause in hostilities” between the initial confrontation and the headbutt was critical in proving the assault.

“It was clear to the accused that the confrontation was over when he lunged forward and headbutted the complainant,” he said.

“He (the accused) simply took advantage of a pause when the complainant was off-guard to physically vent his anger.”

Magistrate Lawrence rejected Wilkes’ claims of self defence and provocation.

Prosecutor John Prior said the assault was “serious” and “vicious” as parents were important role models for children.

He said the majority of eye witnesses indicated Mr Wilkes had been the aggressor in the confrontation.

Wilkes’ defence lawyer Abigail Rogers said her client recognised he was “out of line” with his language toward the young player and was “horrified” by his comments and conduct that day.

She said he has now taken steps to undergo anger management and she indicated she would be applying for a spent conviction.

Magistrate Lawrence said the headbutt was “simply an act of aggression” while his earlier verbal abuse of a child was “offensive, intimidating and entirely inappropriate.”

Outside court Wilkes said he was an assistant coach at the Morley Bulldogs Junior Football Club after spending six years at the Bayswater-Morley club up until the assault.

Wilkes said he regretted the language he used at the child and said the whole incident had taken a huge toll on him and his family.

Asked if he accepted responsibility, he said he accepted responsibility for what he thought had happened.

WA Football Commission spokesman Warren Nel said according to the Morley Bulldogs club Wilkes was not an assistant coach, but a parent volunteer.

He emphasised that inappropriate behaviour at junior football games was “completely unacceptable.”

“The WAFC is extremely disappointed when unacceptable behaviour occurs, especially at a junior football match, and hopes that the current case before the courts highlights that any person who breaks the law or engages in violence at football will be made accountable for their actions,” he said.

“This particular incident was not reported by any umpire or club official so will not be taken to a football tribunal.

“The relevant district football council has contacted junior stakeholders to make them aware of the situation and strongly recommended that anyone involved in inappropriate behaviour does not hold an official role within the district.”

Mr Prior is calling for a fine to reflect the seriousness of the assault.

Magistrate Lawrence released Wilkes on bail to be sentenced in September.