Harrison v The Queen [2022] SASCA 35.

Mr Harrison was playing in the B grade grand final between Flagstaff Hill Football Club and Christies Beach Football Club in the Southern Football League in September 2018. Mr Bailey was a leading goal kicker with Flagstaff Hill. There was a scuffle, and as the scuffle was dispersing, Mr Harrison approached Mr Bailey from behind and hit him with a closed fist to his face, knocking him down. Mr Harrison was given a red card and taken from the ground. Mr Bailey was seriously injured. He sustained lacerations to his mouth and had teeth displaced. He sustained two fractures to his lower jaw which necessitated surgery and the insertion of titanium plates which will remain permanently. He required extensive rehabilitation and was unable to work for six weeks and requires ongoing dental work.

Flagstaff Hill went on to win the game. Christies Beach were leading at the time of the assault on Mr Bailey.

Mr Harrison was later arrested and charged with causing harm with intent to cause harm. He originally pleaded not guilty and his case was listed for a trial, but he eventually pleaded guilty to the charge in the District Court after a long delay. On 21 February 2022 he was sentenced to one year and 10 months in prison, and was eligible for parole in 11 months and one week. The sentencing judge described the assault on Mr Bailey as cowardly and completely unacceptable, and observed that violence behind play is no longer tolerated in any sporting code. The community, said the judge, expects that players can enjoy sport such as football without risking such conduct – and thuggish and impulsive outbursts of violence must be deterred. There was a need to deter Mr Harrison for such behaviour and a need to deter others of a like disposition and those were both important sentencing considerations.

Mr Harrison applied to the Court of Criminal Appeal for leave to  an appeal against his sentence to the Court of Criminal Appeal on the basis that the sentence he received was excessive. The Court refused him permission to appeal, saying:

‘…violent behaviour such as this called for a strong response from the sentencing court. This kind of thuggery, on or off the sporting field, will not be tolerated by the community…The blow was struck behind the play and cannot be characterised as a commonplace infringement of the rules of play.’


The sentencing judge also made mention of the fact that senior footballers set an example of acceptable culture and on-field behaviour for the young and that was something he considered, in addition to the fact of the injury to the victim, when deciding what sentence was appropriate.