The man responsible for bashing former Kangaroos captain Jack Ziebell just hours after his final match has pleaded guilty as video of the shocking incident was played to a court.
Ibrahim Behluli, 21, pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday to two charges of committing affray by behaving in a riotous manner and intentionally causing injury.
The young man sat behind his lawyer, Anthony Malkoun, with his head bowed as two CCTV videos – lasting about a minute and a half – were shown in the court.
The North Melbourne stalwart, who played 280 games over 14 years at the AFL club, was celebrating with teammates and staff when he was set upon by Behluli outside the Osborne Rooftop & Bar about 1am on August 20 last year.
The court was told Mr Ziebell had gone outside to check on a ‘friend’ after he had been told several members of his group had been involved in a fight.
The man responsible for attacking Kangaroos captain Jack Ziebell (pictured with his wife Shannie and daughter Pippa) has pleaded guilty in court
Ziebell is pictured leaving hospital with serious facial injuries after the attack
Behluli, who was wearing a red and orange ‘flamed top’, attacked the 32-year-old, pushing him into a wall before delivering a punch ‘with such force’ that Mr Ziebell was knocked to the ground.
He then kicked Mr Ziebell to the body before walking away.
The court was told medical records indicate Mr Ziebell suffered a broken nose and cuts to his lip and was taken to hospital.
In a summary of the offending, Behluli, alongside two mates, had attended the South Yarra venue less than an hour before the violence broke out.
The trio had been ejected from the venue shortly after 12.50am when an altercation broke out between Behluli and Kangaroos forward Charlie Comben, who was pushed to the floor and struck six times to the back of the neck.
Another player, Curtis Taylor, had intervened to pull Behluli off Mr Comben and was pushed by Behluli before security became involved.
Also in court on Thursday, co-offender Masihullah Rawani, 27, was convicted and handed a $1800 fine after pleading guilty to a charge of behaving in a riotous manner in a public place.
Ibrahim Behluli covered his face as he left court on Wednesday
Masihullah Rawani declined to speak to media as he left court
‘Mr Rawani, this is behaviour of the worst kind in a public venue where alcohol and public patrons are attempting to gather to enjoy themselves,’ magistrate David Starvaggi said.
‘While I accept you had a lesser role, your behaviour was intolerable.’
Court records indicate the third man initially charged over the incident, Abdul Karim, 29, had his charges dismissed during a court hearing last week.
Mr Malkoun told the court there had been a ‘disagreement’ in the packed venue without going into specifics.
He told the court the day following the incident his client had handed himself in, urging Mr Starvaggi to find his client was keen to hold himself accountable.
‘There are some safe and solid inferences about him facing the matter and turning himself in,’ he said.
He said his client, who works in the labour industry, had been ‘denounced’ at home by his parents.
Ziebell has since said that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time when he was bashed
Before the matter could progress to sentence, a prosecutor said Mr Ziebell and his wife had indicated they wanted to make victim impact statements to the court.
A victim impact statement is a voluntary process where a victim and their loved ones can outline the effect a crime has had before sentencing.
Behluli’s case was adjourned to next week to give Mr Ziebell and his wife the opportunity to do so.
A month after the attack, Mr Ziebell said he believed he was in the ‘wrong place at the wrong time’.
‘It wasn’t the ideal way to start retirement but, in saying that, it could have been a lot worse,’ he said.
‘Fortunately, I’ve healed up and will make a full recovery.’