Cage fighter on "vile" family violence charges unsuccessfully reduces jail sentence on appeal

UPDATE | An amateur cage fighter was unsuccessful in reducing the length of his jail term on appeal.

John Beirouti appealed the four year and two month jail sentence handed down in the Ballarat Magistrates’ Court last month over a number charges, including numerous counts of persistently breaching a family violence intervention order.

Beirouti originally pleaded guilty to 38 charges, which included three counts of unlawful assault, five counts of theft, two counts of committing an indictable offence while on bail and one count each of trafficking a drug of dependence and failing an oral fluid test.

His appeal was heard before Judge Elizabeth Gaynor at the Melbourne County Court on March 31.

Setting aside Magistrate Gregory Robinson’s sentence, Judge Gaynor convicted and sentenced Beirouti to an aggregate term of 50 months behind bars.

He will need to serve two years and six months before he is eligible for parole. This was reduced from the original 34-month non-parole period handed down in the Magistrates’ Court.

Beirouti has already served 201 days.

Gaynor also fined the accused $750 for failing the oral fluid test, with a further $1000 fine for driving unlicensed.

He was also disqualified from driving for six months.

MARCH 17, BALLARAT MAGISTRATES’ COURT | An amateur cage fighter facing years behind bars for "one of the worst" cases of family violence has penned a letter of apology to the court.

John Beirouti stood in the dock before Magistrate Gregory Robinson where he told the court how the last five months on remand at the Port Phillip Prison had been an "eye opener".

"I can't describe how bad and ashamed I feel for putting myself before you today," he said.

Beirouti explained how he used the time in custody to change his ways.

"I'm proud to tell you and the court I've been drug-free for 152 days and I intend to stay on this path when I'm released to my loving family."

But before he was sentenced, Beirouti's lawyer James Mortley, said his client made it clear he wanted to be jailed.

He said the reasoning behind his decision was to ensure he could further his rehabilitation and prove to the parole board he could live in society without further offending.

Mr Robinson on Friday handed down a four year and two month jail sentence, telling Beirouti his offending was so “vile” he found it hard to find the words to describe it.

Talking about Beirouti’s offending, which included holding knives to a former partner’s throat and threatening to inject her children with ice, Mr Robinson said it was “truly despicable offending”.

“It’s stomach churning,” he said.

Mr Robinson said while at his best and free of drugs, Mr Beirouti was described as a “decent and loving person”, his offending could only be described as “barbaric torture”.

“The community will no longer tolerate lenient sentences given to men who bring harm to women and children,” he said.

Beirouti, who will be eligible for parole after 34 months, cried as his sentence was handed down.

He has already served 187 days. 

The court previously heard Beirouti disregarded a court ordered intervention order not to contact or commit family violence against a former partner, and instead assaulted the woman on a daily basis in front of her children.

Police prosecutor Senior Constable Sam Young spent 45 minutes reading aloud summaries of the accused’s offending, telling the court Beirouti held held pillows over her face and on another occasion threatened to have her daughters raped.

On Friday police prosecutor Leading Senior Constable Lisa Schoemaker said it was one of the worst family violence incidents she had observed in her 10 years as a prosecutor. 

The court also heard Beirouti faces a number of burglary and drug-related offences.

When the accused was arrested in Napoleons last October police found a number of items which had been stolen from burglaries in the Ballarat area.

Questioned by police about the stolen goods found in his possession, Beirouti said he had entered into an arrangement with an associate “Nifty Nev” where he would regularly exchange drugs for the stolen goods.

On Friday Mr Mortley told the court Beirouti had made genuine and extensive attempts to rehabilitate himself while in custody, which included mentoring other prisoners to remain drug-free through fitness regimes.

“He has done everything in his power to prove he is rehabilitated … and ensure he won’t come before the court again,” he said.