Crocodile Dundee

Australian actor David Gulpilil sentenced to jail for broom assault on wife

Australian movie icon David Gulpilil has been sentenced to five months´ prison for breaking his wife´s arm.

The actor, who has appeared in films including Crocodile Dundee, Storm Boy, Rabbit Proof Fence and Australia, was given a 12-month sentence by magistrate John Lowndes, suspended after five months.

Gulpilil, 58, had pleaded guilty to aggravated assault after throwing a broom at his wife, Miriam Ashley, and fracturing her arm.

The court had been told he assaulted Ms Ashley because she refused to join him while he was drinking at a Darwin home.

His lawyer, Eugene Schofield, said Gulpilil had a drinking problem and had been embarrassed by the publicity surrounding his trial.

Mr Schofield said Ms Ashley, who was in court today, had since reconciled with her husband and regretted reporting the incident to police.

Gulpilil had served an earlier prison term of a few weeks because of alcohol-related traffic offences, Mr Schofield said.

"He was very reluctant to go to prison," he said.

Gulpilil has had a well-publicised alcohol problem over many years.

In 2005 he lost his licence for a year and in 2009 recorded a blood-alcohol reading of 0.147, but was let off because a magistrate ruled he only drove at the time to avoid possible violence.

He has also been accused in the past of bashing Ms Ashley.

In 2007 a magistrate imposed a 12-month domestic violence order on Gulpilil, forbidding him from assaulting or threatening Ms Ashley.

Mr Schofield had previously said he expected that Gulpilil´s violent past would "trigger" a mandatory term of imprisonment.

He added that it was "tragic" that a cultural icon had to live in poverty and that his way of life represented how many indigenous Australians lived.

"The media attention as far abroad as Hollywood has disgraced Mr Gulpilil," Mr Schofield said.

He said Gulpilil wouldn´t be a good candidate for general deterrence because of his "social stature."

But Dr Lowndes asked why the actor shouldn´t be treated like anyone else who comes before him in the courtroom.

"I will take into account his achievements like anyone else," he said.

(Published by The Australian - September 22, 2011)

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