Judd winged for a month

CHRIS Judd's qualified contrition for wrenching the arm of an opponent has not saved him from a month-long spell on the sidelines.

The dual Brownlow medallist was last night banned for four matches by the AFL Tribunal after his charge of serious misconduct against North Melbourne's Leigh Adams was proven in a marathon hearing that lasted almost three hours. Judd will miss Carlton's matches against Western Bulldogs, Richmond, Sydney and the Brisbane Lions, with the captain due to be available for the Blues' round-21 match against Essendon.

''We're disappointed, but we respect the tribunal's decision,'' Judd said as he left the hearing. ''I'd just like to reiterate that it was never my intention to hurt Leigh Adams. I've obviously expressed this apology to him personally since the event and we'd just like to extend that apology to the Carlton footy club and its supporters for letting them down.''

Blues general manager of football operations Andrew McKay did not rule out launching an appeal.

''We'll obviously be assessing the situation overnight to determine if we want to take the matter further. We don't want to make much more comment,'' he said.

''We're considering all our options. That's all we want to say at this stage.''

The hearing began dramatically. It was halted after only 10 minutes when Judd's defence counsel, Simon Wilson, QC, protested that the process that led to the charging of the Blues' captain, which included the match review panel failing to propose a specific penalty, was ''incompetent''. This was, however, disputed by tribunal chairman David Jones.

Wilson said Judd had ''performed a legitimate exercise in an illegitimate matter'' and was willing to accept a punishment classification of reckless conduct, medium impact and body contact, which would have resulted in a base penalty of two matches.

''His intention never changed. His intention was to prevent an attempt to dispose of the ball,'' Wilson said.

Tribunal prosecutor Jeff Gleeson, SC, argued Judd's action of pulling back the arm of Adams as Carlton's Andrew Carrazzo lay on top of the North Melbourne player, was ''serious misconduct''. He said Judd would have been aware that Adams was defenceless and could have been injured as a result, and that Judd had no legitimate reason to manipulate his arm in that fashion.

Gleeson recommended a base penalty between 425 and 550 points - a four- or five-game ban - plus a 30 per cent loading for his poor record. He also recommended Judd be denied a 25 per cent reduction, because he had admitted guilt only for reckless conduct rather than for intentional conduct.

If followed, that would have translated into a penalty of between five and seven matches.

The tribunal jury of Wayne Schimmelbusch, Emmett Dunne and Wayne Henwood, who were not bound to consider Judd's poor disciplinary record, settled on a penalty of 450 points - four matches plus 50 carry-over points.

Boundary umpire Mark Foster, called as a witness, said he clearly saw that Judd ''grabbed the player's arm and pulled it up towards the roof'', prompting him to lay the match-day report. ''I thought it was an unsportsmanlike action, and that it had the potential to cause serious injury,'' he said.

Judd's defence was that he grabbed the arm of the pinned Adams to prevent the Kangaroos

player showing the umpire he was intending to dispose of the ball, to avoid being penalised. He believed he was reckless for failing to realise that doing so had put his opposition player at risk of injury, but was guilty of no more than that.

''I'm not trying to wriggle out of this,'' Judd said in evidence. ''It was certainly an unintended consequence of what I wanted to do. Football is an instinctive game. You have a thought and that thought is followed by an action.''

Judd said his attention had shifted away from Adams during the incident, which meant he did not realise his action risked injuring Adams ''until I looked down and saw the position the shoulder was in''.

''I didn't know that until the end, when I let go.''

The champion midfielder said that he ''just would not have grabbed his arm if I had my time over again''.

Gleeson said Adams was not in a position to attempt a handball, ''let alone achieve it'', when Judd intervened.

''Adams was pinned and he was defenceless, and Mr Judd knew this,'' said Gleeson, who then raised the remonstrating of Kangaroos' players Andrew Swallow, Jamie MacMillan and Robbie Tarrant with Judd.

''The reaction of the North Melbourne players is telling. It was entirely illustrative of a degree of outrage. They were very close, they saw it with their own eyes, and they responded immediately.''

When he asked Judd if other players would consider his action to have been unsportsmanlike, Judd replied: ''I think that the act would be, but not the intention.''

Judd said he did not immediately realise who he was tackling, nor did he realise Adams had strapping on his shoulders and had a history of shoulder injuries.

With MARTIN BLAKE

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