Andrew Gaff Handed Eight Match Suspension Over Sickening Punch
The West Coast Eagle entered a guilty plea on Tuesday night.
West Coast midfielder Andrew Gaff has been given an eight match suspension from the AFL Tribunal for striking Fremantle's Andrew Brayshaw.
The Tribunal took just 14 minutes to decide on a verdict.
Fans were shocked and angered on Monday night when Brayshaw left the field bleeding after Gaff delivered an unprovoked off-the-ball punch, leaving the Docker's player with a broken jaw and out for the remainder of the season.
Brayshaw underwent immediate surgery, but the reality of his injury became apparent to fans after an image of him surfaced on social media.
Fremantle's team doctor Ken Withers said the 18-year-old's teeth were "hinged backwards a couple of centimetres into his mouth" and were "effectively dead."
He may require dental implants in the future, according to Fremantle's medical report.
Arriving at Tuesday's tribunal half-an-hour before proceedings began, Gaff was unconventionally accompanied by his parents, as well as his manager and legal council.
Though he has entered a guilty plea, he argued he meant to strike Dockers' star in the chest.
"I meant to hit him in the chest," Gaff said during the hearing.
"I feel sick that I hit Andrew in the face. Absolutely no intention to hit him where I hit him. I tried to do a similar hit to what I did about 10 seconds earlier with my right arm."
Gaff said he sent a text message to Brayshaw the night of the incident, saying how "truly sorry he was".
The West Coast Eagle also rejected the suggestion he swung with his dominant left arm as hard as he could or that he was frustrated by being checked by his competitor.
AFL QC Jeff Gleeson later higlighted this evidence as "troubling."
"The alternative isn't very colouring," he said.
"If it was a clear-headed, unfrustrated Andrew Gaff who threw this strike, it is a strike worthy of even more condemnation."
Providing a character reference for Gaff, former Corey Grammar principal Phil De Young told the tribunal the mid-fielder "is a fine young man," while a second reference, provided by former AFL Victoria talent program manager Anton Grbac, said "he is a pleasant, non-confrontation and emotionally stable individual."
In total, ten glowing written character references were read out during the hearing.
Following Gaff's submission of evidence and a reading of character references at tonight's hearing, Gleeson submitted an appropriate penalty is an 8-12 week suspension.
But Gaff's defence, David Grace QC, slammed the AFL counsels' suggestion of an 8-12 suspension, calling it "manifestly excessive."
"He's pleaded guilty, he's faced the music. He intended to punch him, just not in the face."
After the hearing, Gaff released a statement through the West Coast Eagles.
"I'm so sorry to Andrew Brayshaw and the Brayshaw family. I own my actions and it really hurts a lot. The last 48 hours have been the toughest time of my life."
"I see myself as a caring, gentle and measured person. I am disappointed in myself. I'm disappointed to let my teammates down in a crucial period of the season. I'm disappointed to have let our supporters down as well."