The 21-year-old man who bashed former Kangaroos captain Jack Ziebell just hours after his final match has avoided jail over the “vile” attack.
The retired North Melbourne star had been celebrating the end of his 14 years tenure at the AFL club when he was set upon outside the Osborne Rooftop & Bar about 1am on August 20 last year.
He had gone outside to check on a “friend” after hearing about an earlier confrontation involving teammates Charlie Comben and Curtis Taylor.
CCTV footage captured the moment the 32-year-old was shoved into a wall before he was struck “with such force” that Mr Ziebell was knocked to the ground.
His assailant, Ibrahim Behluli, returned before the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Thursday after pleading guilty to committing affray by behaving in a riotous manner and intentionally causing injury.
The court was told Mr Ziebell and his wife had written a statement outlining the effects of the attack, but he did not want it read in open court.
Prosecutors had argued Behluli should be jailed for the attack, with Mr Ziebell caught unaware and in a “very vulnerable” position.
“Notwithstanding his youth … The offending is too serious for anything other that imprisonment,” a prosecutor said.
But barrister Anthony Malkoun argued the young man had saved the court time and owned up to his behaviour, suggesting a fine was appropriate.
He told the court there was some disagreement about how the altercation started but his client had handed himself in the day after the incident.
“There are some safe and solid inferences about him facing the matter and turning himself in,” Mr Malkoun said.
“The plea allowed them to get on with their lives rather than waiting around for the process.”
Fining Behluli $25,000 with a conviction, magistrate David Starvaggi acknowledged the “profound effects” on Mr Ziebell and his family.
“Your conduct was nothing short of reprehensible,” he said.
“You acted in a vile, repugnant and utterly stupid manner. If you engage in this sort of conduct again in the future, in my opinion, short of a miracle, you will be jailed for a substantial amount of time.
“Make no mistake you did not get away with anything.”
Behluli, who was wearing a red and orange “flamed top” on the night, approached Mr Ziebell as he was on the phone before launching into the attack.
The 280-game veteran was taken to hospital with a broken nose and cuts to his lip.
In a summary of the offending, the court was told Behluli, alongside mates Masihullah Rawani, 27, and Abdul Karim, 29, attended the South Yarra venue less than an hour before the violence broke out.
An altercation broke out shortly before 1am between Behluli and Mr Comben after an argument.
Mr Taylor, had intervened to pull Behluli off Mr Comben, who had been struck six times to the back of the neck after he was pushed onto a bench seat.
Security then ejected the three men from the venue.
Last week, Rawani was convicted and handed an $1800 fine after pleading guilty to a charge of behaving in a riotous manner in a public place.
Karim had his charges dismissed during a court hearing earlier this month, court records indicate.
Outside court, Behluli declined to comment on the case.
Originally published as Ibrahim Behluli: Brawler avoids jail over ‘reprehensible’ attack on former Kangaroo’s captain Jack Ziebell