There's an old saying "It's not what you know, but who you know" and here's proof that it's true.
On April 7 this year, a young man from a privileged background, studying to be a lawyer, bashed and smashed a wine glass into the face of Richard Huiswaard, a man he met earlier that night at a friend's drinks party at Crown Casino in Melbourne. This week he was before the court and magistrate Jack Vandersteen let him off because he said a prison term would hurt his career.
Liam Danial Sweeney 27, got himself a good lawyer, a silk no less, Barrister Ian Hill QC - something you and I couldn't afford. And it was money well spent, because he told magistrate Vandersteen that his client would not be allowed to practice law if he were sent to prison and his life would be ruined. The magistrate readily agreed and said "I don't think he'd last very long in jail - there are not many people in jail who went to Haileybury (very posh school), or who had your client's privileged background." Mr Hill added "Or who look like him."
So with all this goodwill swirling around the courtroom, it's not surprising to learn that Magistrate Vandersteen suspended his entire 18 month sentence for two years. But he did fine him $5,000 for "unprovoked and gratuitous assault."
Prosecutor Luke Exell said Sweeney "got his nose out of joint" about 9.30pm when his attempt to shake hands with a drunk Mr Huiswaard was ignored, and he acted on that anger hours later, around midnight. He said Sweeney fled the scene like a coward, not stopping to render assistance to the bleeding man or talk to police. The victim needed stitches to his head, had to take three weeks off work and still has the scar on his forehead.
And here's the bottom line - the accused's father is prominent family law barrister Dan Sweeney.