A Queensland judge has warned Olympic boxer Damien Hooper he will serve time in jail for spitting in a policeman’s face if he reoffends during parole.
Olympic boxer Damien Hooper says he’s “been through hell” but now wants disadvantaged youth to avoid his mistakes.
The 22-year-old, who represented Australia at the 2012 London Olympics, has been spared jail for seriously assaulting police.
Hooper had pleaded guilty to spitting in an officer’s face while being taken from a nightclub in the southern Queensland town of Dalby in January 2013.
Despite previous run-ins with the law, a Queensland District Court judge is convinced he should be given the chance to continue rehabilitation.
He has been given an 18-month jail term with parole set from Friday’s sentencing.
Judge Kerry O’Brien told Hooper the sentence is one that will “hang over your head”.
He must report to a parole officer and if he reoffends will be taken to prison.
Outside court, Hooper expressed remorse and said he’d learned from his mistake.
“At the time, I lost my brother and I was in a bad way. I was abusing alcohol and I wasn’t myself,” he told reporters.
“I made mistakes and now I’m a man.”
Since the crime, Hooper has become an ambassador for the Institute of Urban Indigenous Health.
He pledged to continue speaking with disadvantaged youth who were at risk of going down the same destructive path he was once following.
“They really listen to me because I’m not that role model who’s just on top, and just good at what I do,” he said.
“I’ve been through rock bottom, I’ve been through hell.”
Hooper’s coach, Gareth Williams, said the boxer was surrounding himself with positive influences.
“Now it’s over, all I can do is guarantee everyone he’ll be champion of the world,” he said.
“Even more importantly, a role model to all the kids out there.”
Mr Williams has been a constant figure in Hooper’s life since the athlete was 16 and at one stage took him in to live with his own family.
He admitted Hooper was learning things he should have realised as a child, but praised him for his new direction.
Hooper said he was confident of staying out of trouble.
“I’m here today, standing here a free man and all I want to do is go out in the community and help the kids that were on the same path as me.”