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Geelong Cats AFL player Tom Stewart suspended for four weeks after sickening hit on Dion Prestia

Star Geelong defender Tom Stewart has been banned from the AFL for four games on Tuesday night after his nauseating hit to Dion Prestia in the Cats’ thrilling three-point win over the Tigers on Saturday.

It took just 45 minutes of evidence and 30 minutes of deliberation to determine that Stewart’s bump, which left Prestia with a severe concussion, was worth the massive suspension.

He is eligible to return in the Cats crucial game at home against the Western Bulldogs on July 30.

Tom Stewart (second from left) was given a four-week suspension for this hit on Dion Prestia

Tom Stewart (second from left) was given a four-week suspension for this hit on Dion Prestia

Geelong attorney Ben Ihle had argued that three weeks was a sufficient ban for the hit, while AFL counsel fought for a four-week ban.

Stewart attended the online hearing but gave no evidence.

Instead, Ihle was left arguing that the fact that Stewart had just 0.39 seconds to make a decision was grounds for a lower suspension.

“He made the wrong decision, but it was less than half a second,” Ihle said at the hearing.

Tom Stewart shone for the Cats in their thrilling three-point win

Tom Stewart shone for the Cats in their thrilling three-point win

“He has expressed his genuine concern for Prestia and his genuine disappointment at the split second decision he made because it is something strange. The remorse was immediate and resounding.’

The AFL were more candid about the off-the-ball hit.

“The punch was brought quickly by Stewart after going past the ball with Prestia unsuspectingly and vulnerable to injury,” Pane said in the AFL’s Evidence.

“Prestia’s injury, concussion, is a serious injury in itself. It’s exactly the kind of action that can cause serious injury.”

While AFL tribunal president Jeff Gleeson acknowledged Stewart’s obvious remorse and remorse over the goal, Jeff Gleeson said the league had little choice but to impose a major ban on the serious act on the field.

Prestia was checked by Richmond Tigers medical staff but was unable to continue

Prestia was checked by Richmond Tigers medical staff but was unable to continue

“The blow came too late. He (Prestia) was wide open, exposed and vulnerable,” he said when he broke the news that Stewart would be banned for four games.

“Stewart had plenty of time to see that Prestia hadn’t taken possession of the ball. He ran past the ball and made a conscious, albeit split-second, decision to punch Prestia at speed.

‘The degree of carelessness was high. He has breached his duty of care by some margin,” Gleeson said

Television cameras captured the incident and Stewart will not return until July 30

Television cameras captured the incident and Stewart will not return until July 30

In the AFL’s official injury update on Tuesday, Prestia was ruled out of this weekend’s clash with the West Coast, but there has been no estimated return as he is dealing with the concussion.

Geelong used two suspensions handed down last season to push Stewart’s case for a lighter sentence.

They were Sam Reid’s (of the Giants) bump on Nat Fyfe that made him miss two weeks, and Patrick Dangerfield’s bump on Jake Kelly that got him a three game suspension, but the AFL ruled they weren’t “comparable.”

Prestia suffered a serious concussion after Stewart's blow at the Melbourne Cricket Ground

Prestia suffered a serious concussion after Stewart’s blow at the Melbourne Cricket Ground

“Given what is known about the effects of blows to the head, all reasonable measures should be taken to avoid avoidable blows to the head. Stewart acknowledges that this was avoidable high contact,” Gleeson said.

Stewart continued to express his remorse as he spoke to reporters following the tribunal’s decision.

“As I have said from the beginning, I accept the decision of the Tribunal, I was left to their discretion,” Stewart told reporters after the hearing.

‘Of course disappointed in my actions and as a man I had to admit that; yet my immediate response was the well-being of Dion and that of his family who had to experience this.

Tom Stewart said he was 'disappointed in his actions', leading to a four-game suspension

Tom Stewart said he was ‘disappointed in his actions’, leading to a four-game suspension

“As disappointed and discouraged as I am right now, it’s still not about me, it’s about Dion’s well-being and how he is,” Stewart said.

For now, Prestia will miss Richmond’s match against West Coast, while Stewart will miss Geelong’s upcoming matches against North Melbourne, Melbourne, Carlton and Port Adelaide.

After the incident, the AFL opted for a postponement rule.

‘There is no thought given to the broadcasting rule. Our position remains the same.’

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