Former Gippsland Power coach found guilty of assault

Former Gippsland Power coach Nick Stevens has been found guilty of a number of assault-related charges against his ex-girlfriend, including pushing her head into a brick wall.

Stevens, 34, had previously pleaded not guilty to all 31 charges at Ringwood Magistrates Court, relating to a number of alleged incidents between 2012 and 2013. 

The charges included assaults, threats to kill, intentionally causing injury, criminal damage to property and threats to damage property.

The coach of Adelaide’s Glenelg Football Club, Stevens played 231 AFL games for Carlton and Port Adelaide before he retired in 2009 due to a neck injury.

Magistrate Nunzio La Rosa on Thursday found Stevens guilty of five counts of assault and three threats to kill, one threat to inflict serious injury and two counts of intentionally causing injury. 

He was also found guilty of one count of property damage.

While no independent witnesses were present during the alleged incidents, the woman’s parents, friend and ex-partner told the court about their observations of her injuries after a number of the alleged incidents.

Magistrate La Rosa said he was impressed with the woman’s testimony, saying she had given her evidence “persuasively, clearly, supported by her parents … (who also testified) in a manner expected of honest witnesses”.

In one of the most serious allegations, the woman told the court that Stevens had slammed her head into a brick wall on April 27, 2013.

Magistrate La Rosa said photos of a graze on her forehead were consistent with an intentional push to the head into the outside wall of the house. 

He rejected Stevens’ lawyer’s argument that the woman’s injuries were self-inflicted, saying the “nature of the injuries make that proposition untenable”.

During another incident on February 10, 2013, Stevens had “threatened to beat her within an inch of her life” and kicked her after she confronted him about a text message he had sent to another woman, Magistrate La Rosa said.

When the woman returned to Stevens’ home to give him her keys, he struck her hip with a chair and threatened to kill her, the magistrate said.

She locked herself in her car when Stevens again threatened to kill her and to kill her father, the court heard.

The woman’s father previously showed the court more than a dozen photos of his daughter with bruises on her face, arms, hips, spine, hands, knee and neck.

Her mother and her ex-partner confirmed that she had called them after the alleged attacks. 

Stevens had not denied the pair had argued but denied the assaults took place.

A number of charges were dismissed, largely due to lack of evidence independent of Stevens and the woman. Magistrate La Rosa also struck out charges that were raised as alternative charges.

He criticised investigating police in the case, saying they had failed to provide photo evidence of a number of places where assaults allegedly happened, which would have assisted the court. “These are basic things that should have been done,” he said.

Stevens will return to court on March 11 for a pre-sentence hearing.

Stevens coached Gippsland Power in the TAC Cup for two seasons in 2012 and 2013, and led the side to a runner-up finish in his first year at the club. Power declined to comment on the verdict.