Axed Sydney Swans AFL player Elijah Taylor has been spared jail over the brutal assault of his ex-girlfriend at a Perth hotel – in which he struck her with a belt and punched her in the back of the head.
Taylor, 19, pleaded guilty in Perth Magistrates Court to unlawfully assaulting Lekahni Pearce on September 13 and causing her bodily harm.
The court heard the pair had bumped into each other at a nightclub before returning to Taylor’s hotel room, and Taylor woke to Ms Pearce punching him after she discovered a Snapchat message from a third party on his phone.
Elijah Taylor (pictured) is seen leaving the Perth Magistrates Court, in Perth on December 2, 2020 after escaping a jail sentence for assaulting his ex-girlfriend
Pearce (pictured) made headlines last month after she snuck into the Sydney Swans’ quarantine hub in Perth to visit Taylor
Ms Pearce reportedly snuck across the golf course and into the resort where the players were staying
Taylor responded by punching Ms Pearce in the jaw and hitting her several times in the face, according to a statement of facts tendered by police prosecutors.
Taylor, who has been on bail since his arrest, then struck her with a belt while she screamed out in pain, crying for him to stop.
When Ms Pearce said she was going to the police, Taylor punched her in the back of the head, causing her to fall to the floor.
Taylor played four senior matches in his debut AFL season but was suspended in August for breaking strict quarantine protocols in Perth.
He was stood down from all football duties by the Swans in September after he was charged by West Australian police.
The court heard Ms Pearce had approached prosecutors before the sentence hearing seeking to have the charge withdrawn.
Taylor’s lawyer Seamus Rafferty on Wednesday asked the court to issue a fine and spent conviction which was granted.
He his client’s youth, remorse and previous clean record – and the request not opposed by prosecutors.
Elijah Taylor (pictured) leaving court in Perth on Wednesday after he was fined $5,000
Taylor was arrested in Perth and placed in the back of a police van (pictured) before being driven to Cannington station
Mr Rafferty said Taylor had experienced ‘frustration, sadness and sense of powerlessness’ from being suspended by his club which had resulted in emotional outburst and a loss of self-control.
He said Ms Pearce had suffered a miscarriage prior to Taylor’s arrival in Perth and that he had breached quarantine because he had wanted to comfort her.
Magistrate Deen Potter granted the request for a spent conviction and handed Taylor a $5000 fine.
‘Clearly you have character of some strength, so hopefully this incident on the 13th of September will not define who you are,’ he told Taylor.
Mr Rafferty said Taylor intended to move to Victoria and play in the VFL in the hopes of one day returning to the highest level.
Elijah Taylor celebrates with Sydney Swans teammates after kicking his first AFL goal in his team’s win against Hawthorn a the SCG on July 25
He said Taylor had been ‘pilloried’ by the media, the AFL and even WA Premier Mark McGowan.
‘Nobody knew the real reason underpinning why he did what he did,’ he said.
He also took aim at the Swans, accusing them of leaving Taylor to fend for himself in Perth when he was suspended.
‘There was no welfare. There was no assistance – there was nothing,’ he said.
The Swans this week announced they had cut Taylor from their list after consulting the AFL, AFL Players’ Association and Taylor’s management.
Their decision was backed by the AFL.
Elijah Taylor (pictured centre) is seen arriving at the Perth court earlier on Wednesday