Celebrity chef George Calombaris has been fined $1000 for punching a man at Sydney Football Stadium earlier this year.
Calombaris, 39, was at the A-League grand final between the Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC at Moore Park on May 7. As he stood on the sidelines, he exchanged heated words with a 19-year-old fan in the stands then punched him in the abdomen.
In September, a court heard Calombaris told the teenager, “you’re a big-mouthed man you dodgy c—” before the punch was thrown.
A lawyer for Calombaris said he believed the fan had called his mother a “c—” first.
He pleaded guilty to the assault in August.
On Friday, Downing Centre Local Court heard Calombaris – a chef, restaurateur and judge on cooking show Masterchef – feels “regret, remorse and shame” over his actions. He has faced significant consequences since the incident, including media attention and losing a $300,000 ambassadorship.
George Calombaris arrives at Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney on Friday. Photo: AAP
Magistrate Peter Miszalski remarked: “I’m sure that those people probably labelled him as a thug.”
Calombaris was supporting Melbourne Victory – defeated by Sydney FC in a tense 4-2 penalty shoot-out – when the argument began.
Following his guilty plea, he said he would not attend A-League matches for 12 months as a result of a self-imposed ban.
He would also stand down as Melbourne Victory’s number one ticket-holder.
In a video of the altercation, played in court on Friday, Calombaris waves his scarf and points his finger at opposing fans.
He then walks past police and security guards and approaches the crowd, speaking to the 19-year-old man. He punches the man in the abdomen, causing him to be pushed backwards, then walks away as the crowd shout at him angrily.
Mr Miszalski said the crowd may well have been shouting abusive remarks at Calombaris, because “that’s usually what crowds do”.
“It’s the yahoo factor,” Mr Miszalski said. “You don’t get sucked into the drama. Once you do that, you’re gone.”
Calombaris’ lawyer acknowledged his client “snapped” when he thought he heard comments about his mother, and said he was not asking for a mere “slap on the wrist” for what he had done.
There was a lighthearted moment as Mr Miszalski said he had been a fan of Masterchef “a long time ago”, with his favourite part being when the chefs caramelised onions.
In the public gallery, Mr Calombaris laughed as he looked at the floor.
The proceedings became more serious when Mr Miszalski labelled the incident a “very definite public display of aggression”.
“It’s not as though somebody’s come up to him and got into his face and started abusing him, he’s actually made his way into the crowd and started to mouth off in no uncertain words,” he said.
“Mr Calombaris is a high-profile figure in the sense that I watched those original programs a long time ago. To see a man like this come before the court is tragic. The situation of getting sucked into the drama, that’s my expression, then to go in and deliberately punch someone, calls for some element of deterrence.
“When the punch landed, that victim’s gone backwards. I’m sending a message out to the community that if you’re in the public arena and if you’re punching people and hurting people, there will be consequences.”
with Michaela Whitbourn
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