Focus on alcohol in Shannon Grant case sparks anger from family violence groups
By Sarah Farnsworth
Updated about an hour ago
Photo: Shannon Grant avoided jail after his original sentence was overturned. (AAP: Daniel Crosling)
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The former partner of AFL premiership player Shannon Grant is still recovering from the violence he subjected her too.
The premiership player and Norm Smith Medal winner admitted in court to assaulting her in jealous rages that turned violent on three separate occasions last year.
Last week, instead of being escorted into custody, Grant walked from court after his original six-month sentence was overturned on appeal.
But it was the judge’s emphasis on his behaviour being a drunken “loss of control” that family violence groups have warned sends a dangerous message.
County Court Judge Susan Cohen said the assaults inflicted by Grant reflected “a loss of control rather than deliberate aggressiveness” and the underlying cause was his excessive drinking.
But chief executive of family violence group Our Watch, Patty Kimberley, said people do not turn into abusers “for the night”.
“Time and time again highly respected research and real-life examples clearly tell us that perpetrators of violence against women don’t take one-too-many sips of alcohol, lose control or mysteriously turn into abusers for the night,” she said.
“While alcohol can and does exacerbate violence, labelling it as a driver is dangerous and not based on evidence.”
The Royal Commission into Family Violence found violence against a partner is underpinned by repeated coercion, control and domination.
The commission found it was attitudes towards women and a tolerance for violence that were crucial factors, and while alcohol was likely to “fuel or exacerbate” violence, it was not a cause.
In Grant’s case, the 41-year-old admitted he had used force repeatedly against his then-girlfriend as he tried to grab her phone to check her messages.
On one occasion she was left so badly bruised she did not leave the house for a fortnight.
A jealous argument on the beach about who she had been contacting was so loud and aggressive the police were called.
A month later, he wrestled her in a hotel bathroom trying to grab her phone and stomped on her with his foot.
She landed so hard against the floor, with him on top of her, she also injured her hip, elbow and foot injuries.
The court heard she is yet to recover from the emotional scars.
Attitudes towards women ‘must change’
Judge Cohen overturned Grant’s original jail term and replaced it with a two-year community corrections order.
While she said alcohol was not an excuse, Judge Cohen said it was Grant’s problem-drinking that “gave rise” to his offending, and stressed he had taken steps to curb the problem by attending regular Alcohol Anonymous meetings.
He has also had anger management counselling.
Domestic Violence Victoria’s chief executive Fiona McCormack said it was concerning when family violence was excused, particularly when they were a role model.
“Judges’ responses to these cases can often be out of line with community expectations,” Ms McCormack said.
“Men who commit domestic violence do not lose their self-control, they are in control enough to only commit violence against their partners or families and behind closed doors.”
It is the latest criticism of authorities in relation to violence against woman in recent months.
Victoria Police were accused of victim blaming for their warnings for people to stay safe after the murder of comedian Eurydice Dixon at Princes Park in Carlton.
“This must change because we know, based on the evidence, that attitudes towards women is one of the primary drivers of violence against women,” Ms McCormack said.
The court declined to comment on the case.