A fight about a pre-paid cab fare has cost AFL great 100 hours of unpaid community service.
The 53-year-old has been convicted for recklessly causing injury to a taxi driver, following St Kilda’s 11-point win over Essendon at Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium on March 30.
Winmar had been “significantly inebriated” when he and his partner hailed a taxi and an argument broke out over the driver’s request for a pre-paid fare.
The former footy player got out of the car, slammed the door and went to walk away when the driver followed him.
“It’s fair to say that this is not a case where you necessarily took the first step,” magistrate Felicity Broughton said as she handed Winmar a 12-month community correction order.
“You then took it too far and it all happened very quickly.”
Winmar repeatedly punched his victim in the face despite the man throwing up his hands to shield himself, then kicked the driver when he fell to the ground before police intervened.
The victim was left with a split lip, sore ribs and a swollen and bruised face and told the court he was looking for other work because of the assault.
Winmar maintained the driver shoved him first.
As part of his punishment, he must complete 100 hours of community work and undergo treatment for his alcohol issues.
Compliance with the rest of the order will shave 30 hours off his community workload.
The magistrate dismissed a second charge of public drunkenness and said Winmar’s prospects for rehabilitation were extremely good.
But Ms Broughton noted Winmar had been fined and convicted in 1997 and then again in 2000 for offences including unlawful assault.
Winmar played a combined 251 games for the Saints and the Western Bulldogs before retiring in 1999.
His high-profile stance against racism has been immortalised with a statue unveiled in Perth earlier this year.
It depicts Winmar reacting to a torrent of racist abuse from Collingwood supporters during a game at Victoria Park in 1993 by raising his St Kilda guernsey and pointing to the colour of his skin.
Ms Broughton said his athleticism and sporting prowess had been a double-edged sword, exposing the player to significant racism.
She also acknowledged Winmar had sought to give back to the community and address indigenous disadvantage.
During the hearing, defence lawyer Sam Norton took aim at the media’s treatment of Winmar, whom he labelled a “reluctant celebrity”.
“The way in which Mr Winmar was treated on his exit from the court was, in my opinion, a disgrace,” Mr Norton said, referring his his client’s appearance earlier this month.
The lawyer said the level of scrutiny and badgering Winmar had faced went beyond the ordinary and it amounted to extra-curial punishment.
“That has caused Mr Winmar significant anxiety,” he said.
Ms Broughton urged the media to be respectful.
“The court process is not only what happens inside the court … but the authority of the court that access to justice is appropriate and safe,” she said.
Winmar declined to speak to media outside court.
© AAP 2019