Just as the opening round of the AFL season concluded, former Sydney Swan player Elijah Taylor pleaded guilty to aggravated assault against his ex-girlfriend Lekahni Pearce in a Perth hotel room in mid-September of last year. The incident happened after the pair met up at a nightclub and went back to the hotel. Taylor was sleeping but was awakened as Pearce attacked him. The attack was claimed to come because of her seeing a message from another woman on his Snapchat. He admitted in court that he "lost control of himself", resulting in Pearce being punched in the jaw and hit with a belt.
Taylor's lawyer Seamus Rafferty told the court that Taylor had been under pressure, partly due to his AFL suspension for breaching hub protocols. Sydney suspended him for bringing Pearce into the team hotel In August of last year. The court heard that the breach occurred after Pearce suffered a miscarriage and Taylor wanted to provide support and comfort.
After his arrest in December, the Swans canceled his contract but did indicate they would provide support for the 19-year-old Taylor.
Rafferty told the court that Taylor was remorseful for the attack and accepted full blame, even though Rafferty said Pearce initiated the violence. Rafferty said his client had been pilloried by the media, AFL, and even WA Premier Mark McGowan over the quarantine breach. He said Taylor had been left to “fend for himself” over the incident, “This kid just wanted to crawl under a rock and then his whole world came crashing down."|
Pearce did attempt to drop the charges, but it was too late as Taylor had already pleaded guilty. The court fined him $5000 dollars plus court costs and gave him a "spent" conviction since Taylor was remorseful and had no prior record. A spent conviction is similar to probation, but the guilty party does not have to disclose the arrest or conviction to anyone. Nor will it appear on police records. In ten years', time, the entire record will be expunged.
The AFL also sanctioned Taylor. The sanctions are:
- banned from being on an AFL list for the duration of the 2021 season,
- banned from all state and community football until June 1 of this year but permitted to play in reserves or second-tier competitions being May 1,
- required to complete an approved educational and monitoring program as a condition of returning to any level of AFL. Taylor was hoping to play in the VFL with a view to relaunching his AFL career but that will have to wait with the imposed sanctions.
Taylor was drafted in 2019 and made his debut in Round Seven of last year. He played three more games before being suspended by the club in August.
Source: afl.com.au, news.com.au
Article last changed on Tuesday, March 23, 2021 - 10:28 PM EDT