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Re: Rugby V Grid Iron -Again?
And an update ...........
War and footy fracas: Aussies guilty
Two Australian navy engineers have admitted in a US court to viciously hitting and kicking an American law student after a drunken argument erupted over Middle East politics and Australian rules football at a party in San Diego last year.
Philip Ferres, 26, and Kolis Barba, 24, each entered guilty pleas to a felony assault charge as part of a deal with US prosecutors.
The Australians, who committed the assault while on shore leave in San Diego last November when their frigate, the HMAS Sydney, docked at the southern Californian city, hope the deal will avoid a maximum seven-year jail sentence in a tough state prison facility.
Under the deal, prosecutors recommend Ferres and Barba be sentenced to a 90-day part-time jail sentence.
The sentence will require Ferres and Barba to work during the day and sleep at night at a low security facility in downtown San Diego run by probation officials.
With good behaviour, the sentence could be sliced to around 50 days.
It will be up to Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Fraser to sign off on the deal at a sentencing hearing in San Diego on April 8.
"I don't think they got off lightly," Matt O'Connor, the American lawyer defending Ferres and Barba, told reporters after the court appearance in San Diego's Superior Court complex, overnight Sydney time.
Ferres, from Townsville, and Barba, from Mackay, appeared nervous as they quietly entered guilty pleas to the felony charge of assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury.
A cocaine possession charge against Ferres was dropped under the deal.
The duo may escape a hefty jail sentence in one of California's notorious jails, but the guilty pleas could end their Navy careers.
O'Connor said both feared being discharge from the Navy when they return to Australia.
"There is a lot of unknown exactly how the Australian government and the Navy particularly are going to handle these boys," O'Connor said.
"Their careers may be jeopardised by this."
The assault took place on November 22 after Ferres and Barba met the victim, 28-year-old San Diego law student Jeffery Wilkinson, at one of the city's popular bars.
The three ended up at a party at an apartment where the argument flared about Australian and US troops being in the Middle East.
The three also argued about the merits of Australian rules football against American gridiron.
"The victim had some very strong and pointed words about the Australian government being in the Middle East ... it wasn't just football," O'Connor said.
The Australians took offence to Wilkinson's views. Wilkinson then threatened Ferres and Barba, O'Connor said.
"This man made some gestures with his fingers like there was going to be a gun pointed at them and 'You're dead, you're dead'," O'Connor said.
Fearing Wilkinson would obtain a gun, Ferres and Barba ran after Wilkinson down a street and then beat him with their fists and feet.
Wilkinson suffered a broken nose and rib, a fractured eye socket and required 30 stitches on his face.
"They reacted, but reacted, as they would admit, too forcefully," O'Connor said.
Ferres and Barba have been living and working at a US naval base in San Diego since their release on bail a week after their arrest.
The Australians will have to pay restitution to Wilkinson for his medical bills.
Wilkinson could also file a civil lawsuit against the pair.