A magistrate has slammed a 21-year-old man’s attack on retiring North Melbourne player Jack Ziebell as “vile, repugnant and utterly stupid”, as he fined him $25,000.
Ibrahim Behluli sat in the front row of Melbourne Magistrates Court on Thursday, where he was sentenced after pleading guilty to intentionally causing injury and affray over last year’s bashing.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Violent thug spared jail after attack on Jack Ziebell.
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Ziebell was enjoying retirement celebrations with his Kangaroos teammates at a South Yarra bar in the early hours of August 20, when three men began fighting with some of the players.
Players Charlie Comben and Curtis Taylor were involved in a scuffle inside the Osborne Rooftop and Bar, after Behluli began arguing with Comben, the court was told on January 24.
The fight escalated and Behluli’s friends, Masihullah Rawani, 27, and Abdul Karim, 29, became involved.
Jack Ziebell is seen in a hospital carpark after the attack. Credit: Seven
CCTV footage played in court shows Behluli striking Comben six times in the back of his neck, and Taylor trying to intervene, before the three men were kicked out by security.
Ziebell was told members of his group had been involved in a fight and walked outside to check about 1am, when he was confronted by Behluli and Rawani outside the bar.
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The retiring player was pushed against a wall and Behluli punched him and knocked him to the ground.
He then kicked Ziebell while he lay on the ground and walked off.
Ziebell was taken to hospital, suffering a broken nose and cuts to his upper lip.
He and his wife wrote statements about the impact of the attack on their lives, but these were handed straight up to Magistrate David Starvaggi and not read out in court.
The prosecutor had called for Behluli to be jailed over the attack, but defence lawyer Anthony Malkoun asked for leniency given his young age and an early plea of guilty.
He also said Behluli had turned himself into police within 24 hours of the attack.
Ibrahim Behluli has been spared a jail sentence for attacking AFL player Jack Ziebell. Credit: AAP
Mr Starvaggi decided against a prison term, and instead convicted Behluli and fined him $25,000.
He asked Behluli to stand as he issued him a warning, saying he should make no mistake that “he didn’t get away with anything”.
“Your conduct was nothing short of reprehensible,” he told Behluli.
“You acted in a vile, repugnant and utterly stupid manner.
“If you engage in this sort of conduct again in the future … you will be jailed for a substantially long time.”
Behluli wore a white T-shirt inside court, but tried to disguise himself from media by donning a large puffer jacket, sunglasses and a face mask when he left.
Rawani was fined $1800 for his role in the offending, and Karim had his charges dismissed.