AFL Essendon star Andrew Lovett jailed in Melbourne over shocking violence against girlfriend
Ex-AFL star Andrew Lovett continued to blame a woman he had bashed, spat-on and tormented for 22-months despite pleading guilty to two-dozen domestic violence charges.
The disgraced ex-footballer, who pulled on the boots for Essendon between 2005 and 2009, will spend just eight months behind bars after being sentenced on Thursday.
Victoria Police officer Melanie Rowe had been trapped in a vicious cycle of abuse that she could not escape.
Lovett had blamed her at the time for his atrocious behaviour and continued to do so right up until his sentence on Thursday.
Andrew Lovett is facing at least 88 charges with court documents revealing alleged offences including assault. Lovett is pictured in 2011
Melanie Rowe, 36, with her ex-boyfriend – former AFL player Andrew Lovett. Lovett subjected her to a horrifying domestic violence ordeal which including choking and punching her
Lovett, 39, (pictured in his playing days) will spend just eight months behind bars. He has already spent 100 days in jail awaiting Thursday’s sentence
Upon his release – which will come in under five months with time already served – Lovett will need to complete a 12-month community corrections order.
While the order means Lovett will receive drug, alcohol and anger management treatment, he will not be required to provide a single second of unpaid community work.
Before sentencing Lovett, Magistrate Jason Ong had staged a tough dressing down to the caged ex-footballer, who appeared in the Dandenong Magistrates’ Court via video link.
‘This was terrifying, ongoing, aggressive physical violence . It was controlling and manipulative behaviour,’ he told Lovett.
‘This was serious and sustained family violence … This family violence cannot be tolerated in our society.’
Lovett’s atrocities had taken a whopping eight pages to be summarised by police.
The former AFL star, who was awarded the prestigious Anzac Day medal for the Bombers in 2005, pleaded guilty to 24 offences including assault, recklessly causing injury and stalking.
But the court heard Lovett had never really wanted to accept responsibility for his vicious treatment of Ms Rowe – an acting police officer who had gone out of her way to help the ex-footballer.
Andrew Lovett and Melanie Rowe in happier times. Lovett was jailed on Thursday for domestic violence
Crown prosecutor Andrew Sprague informed magistrate Ong Lovett had complained to corrections staff about his guilty pleas just this week.
Lovett had been in the process of being assessed for the community order he ultimately received when he claimed he had been coerced into admitting guilt.
‘He did engage in some denial of culpability when discussing his offending, with him stating: “I feel like I was forced to plea-up to that stuff”,’ Mr Sprague said.
When staff asked Lovett to clarify the comment, Lovett said he felt that he would be kept in jail longer if he tried to contest the charges.
‘When asked to clarify if he was guilty of the offending contained in the summary, he answered in the positive, however he also engaged in victim blaming, stating: “I didn’t do all of it. Some of it was (the victim)”.’
Lovett, himself a self-confessed cocaine and booze fiend, cruelly claimed it had been Ms Rowe’s bad habits that were to blame for his actions.
The deranged ex-footballer specifically noted the time Ms Rowe had slashed him with a knife as an example.
In reality, the court heard Ms Rowe had been forced to defend herself with the knife after Lovett attacked her as she was getting out of the shower.
It had been one of 14 particularly savage attacks against the dedicated police officer.
Lovett choked Ms Rowe before smashing her head against the bath tub, knocking her out cold.
When she woke, Lovett was still there, forcing her to defend herself with the kitchen knife, which Lovett quickly disarmed her of.
Lovett had met his former partner in October 2019, but by August the following year he had already been slapped with an intervention order amid allegations of domestic violence.
The court heard Lovett had practically moved into Ms Rowe’s house and despite his alleged hostility, and court order, she continued to allow him back into her home.
LIFE AND TIMES OF A FOOTBALL LOSER
2003: Selected in rookie draft to play with Essendon
2006: Ordered to stay away from a former partner after she alleged he locked her in his car and hit her
2007: Fined $500 for an intervention order breach but escaped without a conviction
2008: Suspended twice by the Bombers for disciplinary reasons then traded to St Kilda
2009: Charged with being drunk in a public place
That same year he was suspended indefinitely following allegations of being involved in a sexual assault
2010: Sacked from St Kilda when rape charges were laid
2011: Lovett was acquitted of the charges
By February 2020, just weeks before Melbourne was placed into the first of six pandemic lockdowns, their relationship had reached what she believed would be rock bottom.
Lovett had been blowing what little cash he had on the pokies and booze while sponging off his frustrated partner.
After a night on the grog, the court heard Lovett spent a night in Ms Rowe’s backyard curled up under a BBQ cover when she locked him out of her house.
When she opened the door that morning, police allege he punched her in the face before strolling off to grab a shower.
Lovett’s controlling behaviour continued to escalate amid claims he would break his partner’s telephone upon something as simple as a male phoning her, and punch her in the face when she added a female follower to her Instagram account.
The resulting bruise would see Ms Rowe forced to conceal it with make-up to attend work and later cancel a plumber who had been scheduled to fix her toilet.
In August that year, police allege Lovett became enraged after his partner had asked him to attend an Italian-themed pizza night at her home.
While making the dough, Lovett poured a beer over her head before shoving her to the floor.
Police were called, but the frightened woman was too scared to have Lovett arrested.
Andrew Lovett approaches a Melbourne court with his legal team in 2010
Andrew Lovett of the Bombers yells encouragement to a teammate during an Essendon Football Club training session held at Windy Hill on February 18, 2008
Andrew Lovett repeatedly bashed his girlfriend
Days later they arrested him anyway and slapped on another intervention order.
Months later, police allege Lovett sent a video of his partner losing her cool to her own mum on her birthday.
The alleged boozed-up Lovett then tossed Ms Rowe, fully clothed, into her swimming pool.
The court heard Lovett woke up the next day sleeping in the gutter.
In January last year, Lovett cracked his partner in the face with a shoe before later taking her car to participate in a bender with mates in trendy Brighton.
Forced to catch an Uber to collect it, Ms Rowe noticed her car was full of Lovett’s items, including clothes and his precious Playstation console.
The court heard Lovett launched into a fit of rage later that night after his partner cut his access to her credit card.
When he returned home, the court heard Lovett ripped her bed covers off and demanded she make him lunch and drive him to work.
He bashed her with a lunchbox before punching her in the face.
Andrew Lovett in 2005. He had the world at his feet as a rising AFL star.
On the day before Anzac Day last year, a drunk Lovett is accused of spitting in his partner’s face, dousing her yet again in beer and kicking her while on the ground.
And on Anzac Day itself, the court heard Lovett made Ms Rowe buy all of his beers at the Anzac Day clash despite her being on the job.
He then went out with ‘the boys’ despite his partner being attacked by a yobbo at the footy that day.
When she again cut access to her credit card, Lovett returned home, allegedly dragged her out of bed and spat in her face.
She later told police she had begged Lovett not to bash her, telling him it had all been her fault, the court documents revealed.
In May, the court heard she cracked the windscreen of her car as she tried to escape Lovett’s clutches – as he allegedly spat in her face while throttling her.
It was the night police claim Lovett allegedly erased what he believed to be all of the photographs his partner had taken of her bruises from him over the years.
Police would later discover he had failed to delete photos she had already texted to friends of family.
‘I never knew that one swipe would change my life forever,’ Ms Rowe said in her victim impact statement.
‘I don’t even recognise the person I was with Andrew. I felt trapped and alone with no-one to turn to. I was embarrassed.’
Andrew Lovett in 2006 while playing for the Bombers
Andrew Lovett leaves court in 2011 after being accused of rape
Ms Rowe said she used makeup to mask her bruises from her family and friends and felt embarrassed because she had worked with victims of sexual abuse.
She also avoided going to hospital to hide the scale of domestic violence.
‘Every time I tried, he would pull be back down, I had no strength left and felt completely isolated from those I loved… he broke me in every single way when he took off his mask and revealed his true self,’ she said.
Ms Rowe said she gave Lovett money, clothing and shelter and felt like nothing more than a supply source.
Even after escaping Lovett, he continued to torment her despite court orders supposedly forbidding him from contacting her.
‘I did not respond (to Lovett’s messages). I was not going to engage with him at all. It was over and I was never letting him break me. I was strong enough to not ever get back into the cycle again,’ Ms Rowe told police.
In Lovett’s defence, his barrister David Grace QC, accused Ms Rowe of being ‘jealous’ and had engaged his client despite active intervention orders being in place.
In arguing for a community order, Mr Grace suggested Lovett, who is Aboriginal, ought not be jailed because Aboriginal males were over represented in Australian prisons.
‘Particularly persons who have mental health and alcohol problems and Mr Lovett unfortunately is in that category,’ he said.
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