Port Adelaide defender Tom Jonas has been handed a six-game suspension by the AFL tribunal for his ugly hit on West Coast’s Andrew Gaff.
Jonas gave evidence to Tuesday night’s hearing at Etihad Stadium via video link from Adelaide, with the jury taking just six minutes to deliver the sanction after a hearing that lasted approximately an hour and 40 minutes.
Jonas sparked a melee during the Power’s loss to the Eagles at Adelaide Oval on Saturday night when he knocked out Gaff with an elbow to the back of the head.
He was charged with striking and sent straight to the tribunal by the match review panel, who assessed the incident as intentional conduct with severe impact to the head.
Port Adelaide counsel Mark Griffin QC unsuccessfully argued the offence was careless rather than intentional, which meant Jonas was unable to receive any discount for a guilty plea.
In his evidence, Jonas contended that his intent was to spoil Gaff as he went back for a mark but he was left in two minds as he closed to within two steps of his opponent, with his indecision resulting in “a clumsy mess”.
“I expected that I would only make contact with his back or shoulder, I never intended to make contact with his head or neck,” Jonas told the tribunal.
“As soon as I saw the state that he was in I knew I’d made contact with his head or neck and I regretted it immediately – I felt terrible.”
Jonas said that he had expressed his remorse to West Coast’s Nic Naitanui and Josh Kennedy in the aftermath of the hit that saw Gaff lose consciousness for two minutes before being placed in a neck brace and stretchered from the ground.
He also texted Gaff later that evening to offer his sincere apology, which he said was accepted.
AFL counsel Jeff Gleeson QC argued for a seven-match ban, to which Griffin responded, “This is not a Barry Hall punch”, referring to the seven-match penalty handed to the former Sydney forward for his infamous knockout punch on West Coast’s Brent Staker.
Jonas will miss games against Melbourne, Collingwood, the Western Bulldogs, Fremantle, Richmond and Hawthorn.