Danny Hodgson’s attacker jailed for assaulting WA football player in Perth CBD
The teenager who left soccer player Danny Hodgson to fight for his life has been sentenced to three years and eight months in juvenile detention for what a judge described as ‘seven months of chaos’ which included assault violent against other foreigners.
- Court heard the teenager had a history of unprovoked attacks on adult men
- He was out on bail and under a 24-hour curfew when he assaulted Mr Hodgson
- Former ECU football player Joondalup is likely to have long-term disabilities
Perth Children’s Court today heard the 17-year-old was out on bail and facing a 24-hour curfew when he punched Mr Hodgson without warning near the train station in the city in the early hours of September 5 last year.
The punch knocked Mr Hodgson unconscious, knocking him backwards and knocking his head to the ground, causing severe traumatic brain injury.
The court heard the teenager was out on bail, which he repeatedly breached, on 23 counts relating to 13 separate incidents in the seven months before the attack.
The teenager will have to serve 22 months behind bars before he can be considered for early release.
Presiding Juvenile Court Hylton Quail called the teenager’s crime spree “seven months of chaos”, saying it was “completely out of control”.
“You went from being a (WA regional) young man who never had a problem going down to Perth … and very quickly becoming embroiled in a series of increasingly violent offences,” the judge said Quail to the teenager.
Judge Quail said it was about the teenager who was out on bail for as long as he was, saying if the other charges had been dealt with sooner, his behavioral issues could have been resolved sooner.
He described the attack on Mr. Hodgson as “cowardly”, saying that the moment he threw the punch, Mr. Hodgson was moving away from him and posing no threat.
“Your cowardice continued because you ran away,” he said.
Teenager had history of attacking adult men, court hears
Offenses included the teenager randomly punching men he did not know and robbing bottle shops.
State’s Attorney Brad Hollingsworth said the violent offenses showed the teenager had “a propensity for unprovoked attacks” on adult men.
The court also heard that despite being arrested at the time of the incidents, he had been released on bail several times because the minors had what was described in court as a qualified right to bail.
After the attack, Mr Hodgson spent three months in the intensive care unit, including his 26th birthday, with Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo among those who sent him recovery video messages.
In the days following the attack, Mr Hodgson’s parents were granted a travel waiver to come to Perth from the UK to be with their son.
Parents describe the sentence as “light”
Outside court, Mr Hodgson’s parents said the justice system had let them down, with his father Peter Hodgson saying they were in shock.
Danny’s mother, Nicola Hodgson, said no sentence would have been long enough for the family.
“It was a light sentence but at the same time we have to remember that this guy was 17 and we just hope the rehab does him justice and he comes out a better person,” she said. .
“We just wanted justice for Danny and we just want to get on with our lives now and make Danny better.”
Ms Hodgson said it was shocking to watch the in-court video of Danny being slapped.
“I was shocked how Danny hit the ground, and someone ran away and left him,” she said.
Mr and Mrs Hodgson said the teenager should not have been on the streets the night he punched their son, given his criminal history.
Parents said to prepare for the worst
Mr Hollingsworth said that during Mr Hodgson’s stay in intensive care he suffered repeated complications and his family were told he was very likely to die.
A doctor said he had never seen anyone survive Mr Hodgson’s amount of bleeding from the head.
Mr Hollingsworth said recent reports from doctors indicated Mr Hodgson was likely to have long-term disabilities which would impact his independence.
“The deficits it has left are extremely serious and may well be permanent.”
Mr Hodgson was eventually moved out of intensive care in November and transferred to Fiona Stanley Hospital for rehabilitation which saw him relearn how to swallow, drink and eat.
After playing football at a high level before the attack, video footage of Mr Hodgson’s rehabilitation showed he needed to learn to walk again.
Playing for ECU Joondalup in the WA National Premier League, Mr Hodgson won the Football West Golden Boot 2020 award.
He was celebrating the last game of the season with his teammates and was affected by alcohol when the teenager passed him.
There was an outpouring of public support for Mr Hodgson in the weeks following the attack, with his ECU Joondalup teammates lining the streets as pipe bands played for his parents outside their quarantine hotel in Perth.
Suppliers and traders have also come together to provide Danny and his girlfriend Jess with a solar power system and ducted air conditioning to help him recover.