An Australian court hearing the case of an Indian cabbie allegedly assaulted by footballer Michael Hurley over a 13.8-dollar fare on Friday rejected the accused's plea for avoiding conviction by performing community work, saying the charges against him were "too serious".
Melbourne court Magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg said the charges against 20-year-old Hurley were too serious to be heard through the diversion programme, which allows first-time offenders to avoid conviction by performing community work, The Age reported.
Rozencwajg described as "vicious" the alleged assault which occurred in September last year after the grand final edition of The Footy Show on which Hurley had appeared.
Defence lawyer Damian Sheales said "No one is suggesting at all that this is acceptable behaviour ... but there was a young man who was no doubt incredibly over-excited being on national television (and) staying out far too late ...."
The case was to return to court soon when Sheales would indicate whether Hurley would plead guilty or proceed to a contested hearing.
Hurley's case was delayed earlier after Sheales applied to have Deputy Chief Magistrate Dan Muling disqualify himself from hearing the case, alleging that he had prejudged the matter and was approaching it with bias.
Muling rejected the charge, saying that he had followed the usual procedure for a diversion application, but said it would be inappropriate for him to continue hearing the application given Sheales' request seeking his disqualification.
The case had previously been adjourned until today because Hurley's defence wanted the alleged victim, who was not identified, to be present in court.
Hurley was charged with assault-related offences after allegedly elbowing and kneeing the Indian cab driver outside a restaurant following a night spent drinking at the Grand Final Footy Show finale and a nightclub on September 25 last year.
The court had previously heard that the alleged assault had happened over a 13.8-dollar cab fare.