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In late November, the Sydney Swans sacked midfielder/forward Elijah Taylor. Taylor, 19, was arrested in September for assaulting his girlfriend in a downtown Perth hotel. After the arrest, he was stood down from all football duties. At the end of September, Taylor pleaded guilty to unlawfully assaulting Lekahni Pearce and causing her bodily harm. He was already in trouble with the Swans. In August, Taylor was suspended - and the club was fined - when his girlfriend entered the hub hotel, violating the quarantine protocols.

The hearing was held in early December. The court heard testimony that, after the pair returned to the hotel separately, Ms Pearce later was shaking and striking him while he slept. An argument ensued with Taylor hitting her punching her and using a belt, then kicking away her cell phone when she tried to call police. Taylor's lawyer told the court that Taylor "... "had been struggling with his suspension and the media pressure over his quarantine breach, which led to the the young player losing “self-control”. His attorney also told the court that Taylor had broken quarantine orders to meet with his girlfriend to support her after she suffered a miscarriage, “All he wanted ... was to see her and comfort her ... His whole world came crashing down. It’s not excusable but it is understandable.” The court also heard that Taylor had received counselling and was planning on returning to Victoria in January to play in the VFL in an attempt to resurrect his football career.

The magistrate said Taylor’s early guilty plea showed honesty and remorse. He noted that Taylor has no criminal record, had accepted responsibility for his actions and had not put Ms Pearce through further trauma and embarrassment. Taylor was fined $5000 and granted a spent conviction, A spent conviction is similar to probation in the USA, but under the law, a person receiving a spent conviction does not have to disclose it to anyone nor does it appear on police records, therefore avoiding the stigma or negative impact it might have on their family or future. For more detailed information, see https://www.afp.gov.au/what-we-do/services/criminal-records/spent-convictions-scheme for more detailed information).

As for his termination, the Swans consulted with the AFL, AFLPA and Taylor's manager before making their decision. Executive general manager Charlie Gardiner said, “The situation Elijah and the club has found itself in is deeply regrettable. Elijah has made some very poor decisions which have led us to this point, and he acknowledges that. This is certainly not a position we have arrived at lightly, however Elijah’s actions could not be reconciled ... It is obviously a sensitive situation ... but in working with Elijah and his management, our collective view was that the right call for both Elijah and the club is to part ways.”

The Swans’ initial decision to stand down Taylor was backed by AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan in August, “Our view is clear and unequivocal. Violence against women is never OK in any circumstance, ever. Our absolute commitment is to respect women and to never accept or condone in any way, shape or form violence against women ... our collective view was that the right call for both Elijah and the club is to part ways. We have also consulted with the AFLPA ... This has been an incredibly difficult situation for Elijah, his family, and those involved. We are keen to see Elijah receive ongoing education and support in the hope that he can mature and learn from this experience, make better decisions in the future, and take steps towards rebuilding his career.”

Taylor was drafted in 2019 and played four games before being suspended.

Sources: Loretta Johns, Sydney Media Release, theage.com.au, www.legalaid.wa.gov.au

Article last changed on Wednesday, January 06, 2021 - 5:59 PM EST


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