Court rejects Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios’ guilty plea in assault case

MELBOURNE, Australia — Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios pleaded guilty to common assault on Friday during a court hearing in Canberra, Australia’s capital and his hometown. But soon after, the court dismissed the charge.

Mr Kyrgios, 27, faces a maximum sentence of two years in prison for shoving his former romantic partner, but he pleaded to have the charge dismissed, citing his history of mental health issues. He withdrew that offer after the court heard evidence that he did not suffer from a serious depressive illness.

His lawyer then asked that the conviction be quashed on the grounds that Mr. Kyrgios would suffer greater harm from it than an ordinary defendant. The magistrate agreed, effectively dismissing the charge and allowing Mr Kyrgios to walk away without a conviction or criminal record.

The seriousness of the case was “low level”, said the magistrate, Beth Campbell, adding that she did not believe the tennis star was likely to reoffend.

The unexpected string in the packed courtroom stemmed from an altercation in January 2021, in which Mr Kyrgios was accused of shoving his former girlfriend Chiara Passari during an argument as she tried to prevent him from leaving in an Uber.

The couple briefly separated after the alleged incident, then reconciled. Ms Passari, an Australian model, did not report the affair to the police until they separated again, in December 2021.

In an Instagram post after the hearing, Mr Kyrgios thanked the court for dismissing the charge, cited mental health issues at the time of the incident and thanked his friends, family and new partner , Costen Hatzi.

“I was out of position when it happened, and I reacted to a difficult situation in a way that I deeply regret,” he said. “I know I wasn’t well and I’m sincerely sorry for the hurt I caused.”

“Mental health is tough,” he said, adding, “I now plan to focus on recovering from injury and moving forward in the best way possible.”

Common assault, the charge against Mr Kyrgios, is the least serious assault charge in Australia and indicates that the victim suffered immediate and unlawful violence, or the threat thereof, but not bodily injuries. Ms Passari had reported shoulder pain and a scraped knee after the altercation.

Known for his outbursts on and off the pitch and his mercurial, magnetic style of play, Mr Kyrgios has become something of a folk hero in his native Australia for pushing the boundaries of his behavior. On Friday, he arrived at court on crutches after recently undergoing knee arthroscopy.

Last month, he was expecting a warm welcome at home at the Australian Open, the first major tennis tournament of the year. He withdrew just over 24 hours before his scheduled first-round match due to a knee injury, which prompted the operation.

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