Footy player claims racist slur provoked on-field assault
RUGBY league player John Sika claims he punched a man after an opposing player made a racist slur during an Ipswich game, a court has heard.
The former Brothers reserve grade player made the allegation when he fronted Ipswich Magistrates Court charged with assault causing bodily harm to Alexander Reis at Purga on May 13.
John Mack Biondi Sika, 29, from Redbank, told the court he would plead guilty because he could not afford a lawyer to defend the charge.
Prosecutor constable Emma Ross said the incident happened during a Brothers Ipswich game.
Const Ross said Sika was involved in a tackle when the other player allegedly yelled "get off me you f***ing c***nut".
Both players were sin-binned for 10 minutes over the comments and the punching.
Const Ross said that when the sirens sounded at the end of the game both players walked back onto the field and neither would shake hands.
She said a Brothers trainer tried to hold Sika's arm but Sika punched the man in his head with a fist.
Const Ross said a brawl broke out between members of the opposing teams and some spectators.
The man who was hit suffered a contusion to his left eye and concussion and was medically treated.
The court heard there was CCTV footage of the incident.
Const Ross said both players fronted the rugby league tribunal and both received playing bans.
"I'd like to say I'm sorry," Sika told Magistrate Robert Walker.
"We have been suspended from playing rugby league for 12 months," Sika said.
"The victim made racial slurs to me on the field.
"I just want to get this over with."
Mr Walker queried Sika if he intended to raise the defence of provocation.
"It was going to cost me a lot of money to get legal help. I've got three kids and just can't afford it," Sika said.
Mr Walker became concerned that Sika was not legally represented in what was a serious charge, and again asked if he was pleading guilty.
"It's a matter of money," Sika said.
Mr Walker said he wanted Sika to speak to the court duty lawyer for assistance and would stand the matter down part-heard until he received legal advice.
Sometime later Sika and lawyer Matthew Fairclough returned to the courtroom.
Mr Fairclough said Sika wanted to have his guilty plea withdrawn and intended to contest the charge.
He sought for a trial date to be set where witnesses would be called as there was a defence issue of provocation.
Mr Walker formerly vacated the plea and adjourned the matter to a date next month to list a hearing.