Australian swimmer looks to London after escaping prison
March 27 - Australian swimmer Nick D'Arcy (pictured) has escaped prison after receiving a suspended sentence for assaulting former Commonwealth Games champion Simon Cowley and now hopes to compete at London 2012.
D'Arcy, 21, had pleaded guilty to a charge of recklessly inflicting grievous bodily harm on Cowley in a nightclub brawl last year and was sentenced in a Sydney court today.
Prosecutors had asked the court to jail D'Arcy but his lawyers pleaded for a non-custodial sentence, arguing that D'Arcy had already suffered enough by being excluded from the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
The judge in charge of the case agreed and handed D'Arcy a suspended sentence of 14 months and 12 days, telling the court he had "very good prospects of rehabilitation."
Magistrate John Favretto said: "There is nothing to suggest that he presents a continuing danger to the community.
Favretto accepted that D'Arcy had been provoked by Cowley but said his response was excessive and intended to cause harm.
He placed D'Arcy on a good behaviour bond and ordered him to undergo counselling for alcohol, stress and anger management.
Favretto said: "While there was only one punch, it must have been with considerable force given the extent of the injury."
Outside the court, D'Arcy told reporters he regretted his actions and hoped Cowley would eventually forgive him.
He said: "It was a terrible situation, which I have apologised for, and I deeply regret and I do hope one day he will be able to forgive me."
The decision means D'Arcy may be free to represent Australia at this year's World Championships in Rome after he qualified by winning the 200 metres butterfly at this month's national trials.
D'Arcy was dropped from the Australian team for last year's Beijing Olympics after the fight with Cowley in a Sydney bar while he was out celebrating his selection for the team.
Cowley slapped D'Arcy and he responded by striking him once in the face, causing serious injuries including a broken jaw and nose, fractured eye socket, crushed cheekbone and fractured palate.
Cowley told a hearing last month that he had been left with five metal plates in his face and now suffered anxiety as a result of the incident.
The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC), which banned D'Arcy from competing at Beijing for bringing the sport into disrepute, said he would be considered for the next Olympics in London if he met all the conditions of team selection.
John Coates (pictured), the president of the AOC, said: "Firstly he needs to qualify.
"He must also meet the behavioural standards expected of all Olympic athletes and set out in our team agreement.
"Olympians are role models for young children, they are ambassadors for their country and Nick D'Arcy would need to convince the AOC selection committee he could achieve and maintain these standards before he would be included on the 2012 Australian Olympic team."
|February 2009:||Australian swimmer to be sentenced next month|
|December 2008:||Aussie Olympians face tough new checks before London 2012|