An AFL player has been found not guilty of intent to commit a sexual offense after he was caught on CCTV dragging a nurse into an alleyway, wrestling her to the ground and laying on top of her.
Jackson Williams of the Westmeadows Tigers was found guilty of common assault by judge Mandy Fox for the attack which occurred on October 28, 2018, but Fox said it could not be proven that he intended to sexually assault her.
Shocking footage revealed Williams grab the 39-year-old – who was walking to work at 6:25am in Melbourne’s city center – from behind and drag her into an alleyway, where he proceeded to pin her down and cover her hand with his mouth.
GRAPHIC WARNING: This is the shocking moment a nurse was attacked from behind in Melbourne’s CBD in 2018.A 21-year-old footballer was today found not guilty of intent to sexually assault the victim, but found guilty of assault. #9Newshttps://t.co/Eo534OH0D6pic.twitter.com/gchvO2rbBi
The attack was interrupted when an off-duty police officer from New Zealand – who was on his way to catch a bus to Phillip Island whilst on holiday with his family – heard the woman’s screams for help and ran to intervene.
Judge Fox said: “She tried to fight and grab him and push him away. She was really frightened and scared. Her body was lying on the ground, her face was up, and she kept screaming.”
Prosecutor Stephanie Clancy argued Williams’ intent was clear in the attack: “When a man pulls a woman off the street and into a deserted laneway … it strains credulity to think he could have any other purpose except a sexual one.”
Clancy said the footage did not show evidence that Williams attacked her with the intent to rob her, as he did not appear to attempt to steal the woman’s belongings, such as her phone or backpack, nor did he threaten or make demands of her.
However, Williams’ representative Rosalind Avis said the 21-year-old did not attempt to undress either of them or touch the woman in a sexual way, to which Fox agreed.
“It is important not to approach the question from the point of view of, ‘well what else would he have been intending?’”Fox said. “It seems that whatever intention he formed was formed within seconds, and I find it unlikely he had much of a plan.”
“There is no direct evidence as to the accused’s state of mind,” she added. “I must not guess, speculate or jump to conclusions.”
Ultimately, she concluded: “He did not say or do anything consistent with robbery, but nor did he say or do anything consistent with an intent to commit a sexual assault.”
Williams, who had spent the night clubbing in Melbourne, told police he was intoxicated and did not remember the attack.
He turned himself in the following day after seeing footage of the attack on the news and later pleaded guilty to assault.
He last played for the Westmeadows Tigers in 2019, as the Essendon District Football League’s 2020 season has been cancelled due to the pandemic.