Former footballer guilty of choking partner at Cooloola Cove
A former rugby league footballer has been jailed after being found guilty of a sickening domestic violence assault on his partner and her daughter in 2018 after a trial in the Gympie District Court this week.
Russell Douglas Johnston, 47, was found guilty on one charge of choking in a domestic setting and two charges of common assault when the jury returned its verdict at about 11.30am Thursday morning.
The father of four was found not guilty on two charges of assault occasioning bodily harm, a second choking charge and a second common assault charge.
In his sentencing remarks Judge Bernard Porter described a "physical confrontation" between Johnston and his then partner at about midnight on June 30, 2018, which resulted in Johnston choking her enough to interfere with her breathing.
When the woman's daughter tried to intervene, Johnston picked her up and threw her down on top of her mother, before turning his attention back to his partner by putting his foot on her head "with some force".
Judge Porter noted the jury had acquitted Johnston of the bodily harm aspect of the latter charge, but he had still used force to some degree with the blow.
Johnston's lawyer Catherine Cuthbert tendered multiple references to the court, and argued her client did not need to serve actual time in custody because he had worked all his life and knew "the rigours of self-discipline", pointing to a 500-game rugby league career in which he represented the likes of Mareeba, Atherton and Charters Towers.
Ms Cuthbert noted her client had no history of committing domestic violence offences prior to the 2018 incident.
Johnston then spoke to the court himself, saying he had left the relationship following the incident because he "realised it was toxic", and had "made progress" with a psychologist since that occasion.
"I have moved forward as a man, my responsibility is to break that cycle," Johnston told the court.
Judge Porter then asked Johnston about his offending against the two women, but Johnston declined to answer.
Crown prosecutor Stephanie Gallagher countered by saying Johnston had not shown remorse for his offending by taking the matter to trial and putting both victims under cross-examination.
Judge Porter called the choking offence " particularly insidious" and noted the victim would have feared for her life, with the situation only coming to an end due to her daughter's "courageous intervention".
He noted Johnston's "very good" references and said his employers had spoken highly of him, but he had been in a "toxic relationship that led to violence".
Johnston was given a head sentence of two years' jail, with a parole eligibility date set for February 10 next year.
Originally published as Former footballer guilty of choking partner at Cooloola Cove