During an online hearing of the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Wednesday afternoon, Hunter did not speak as his lawyer entered guilty pleas to charges of drink driving, careless driving and failing to provide his name and address after an accident.
The court was told a man who owned two of the vehicles came outside after hearing the crash and found Hunter standing behind the driver’s side door.
He asked the footballer if he was OK, to which Hunter replied that he was fine before he apologised and promised to “fix everything up”.
“I couldn’t smell alcohol,” the man later told police. “His voice didn’t appear slurred or intoxicated.”
Hunter provided the man, and the owner of a third car, with his licence and details. He said he had just had an argument with his girlfriend.
Without giving his details to the owner of the fourth car, he was picked up and taken to a property in South Yarra, where he continued drinking.
Police showed up at the property a few hours later, where they found empty tins of UDLs. Hunter undertook a breath test which returned a blood alcohol reading of 0.123.
When questioned by police, he told them: “Does it matter that I got here and I was drinking, do I have to say anything towards that? I’m not sure what to say’.”
Hunter’s lawyer Rob Stary told the court that apart from a speeding ticket from six years ago, his client had an “unblemished record”.
He said Hunter had contacted his employer, the Western Bulldogs, straight after the incident to let them know what had happened and had taken full responsibility for the accident.
The club fined him $5000 and he was suspended for four AFL matches.
“Moreover, in terms of his own contrition, he voluntarily relinquished vice-captaincy of the club,” said Mr Stary.
“It’s a position he is elected to by his peers and so even though what’s happened … is completely self-inflicted, there is nevertheless a sense of embarrassment, humiliation and shame.”
Hunter has been undergoing counselling since the crash. He has also paid $5000 to fix the damage on one of the vehicles and is expected to pay a considerable amount to fix the other cars, Mr Stary said.
The magistrate was also provided with a reference from Chris Grant, director of football at the Western Bulldogs, who said that Hunter had undergone alcohol education and counselling and community service.
In sentencing, Magistrate Michelle Hodgson took into account Hunter’s young age, the fact he is paying for the damage to the cars and his willingness to seek treatment and counselling.
But she also said she needed to consider deterrence and denunciation so “like-minded men or others are deterred from drink driving”.
“The very privileged position you hold in the community by virtue of your sporting ability comes with high expectations … in particular given your status as role models,” she said.
“I’m satisfied the sanctions put in place will work to deter others.”
She fined Hunter $1000 with no conviction recorded.
He will lose his licence for 12 months, beginning from April 16, the day of the crash.
Hunter apologised at the time of the incident to the club, his family, the public and Bulldogs members in a video message posted on the club website.
Simone is a crime reporter for The Age. Most recently she covered breaking news for The Age, and before that for The Australian in Melbourne.