A former weightlifter once embroiled in a steroids scandal at the Australian Institute of Sport has been handed a suspended jail sentence for an assault and theft described as "particularly vicious".
In sentencing Stanley Hambesis on Tuesday, Acting Justice David Robinson said the 60-year-old Canberra man's offending in July 2019 was out of character and unlikely to be repeated.
An agreed statement of facts tendered to the ACT Supreme Court says Hambesis and his victim became friends around 2014, but fell out when Hambesis' marriage broke down in 2015 or 2016.
"The victim believed Hambesis blamed him for the marriage breakdown," the facts say.
In the early hours of July 29 last year, the victim and Hambesis crossed paths at the home of a mutual friend in Holt.
When Hambesis saw the victim in the living room, he said words to the effect of, "You ruined my marriage".
Hambesis then punched the victim a number of times in the head, causing the victim to fall to the ground.
For about two minutes, Hambesis hit the victim in the face, head, back and ribs.
"At one stage while the victim was on the ground, Hambesis placed the victim in a chokehold and said words to the effect of, 'This is what you get for ruining my life'," the agreed facts say.
The victim suffered bruising to his cheekbones, eye sockets, head and back, as well as abrasions to his back.
The attack only stopped when the victim managed to bite Hambesis on the forearm.
Once the assault was over, another man, Sione Feiloakitau Tuifua, warned the victim not to contact police "otherwise other things would happen".
Tuifua told the victim to sign over his mother's Range Rover to Hambesis, and the victim complied.
The victim also handed his wallet over to Hambesis, and the former weightlifter took items including a few hundred dollars from it.
Hambesis was arrested on August 9 last year, and police reported being able to see a red mark on his arm where he had been bitten.
He later pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm and theft.
In court on Monday, Crown prosecutor Rebecca Christensen described the attack carried out by Hambesis as "particularly vicious".
On Tuesday afternoon, Acting Justice Robinson sentenced Hambesis to 19 months in jail.
But the judge suspended the sentence immediately and ordered Hambesis to enter into a good behaviour order for that period, and to complete 50 hours of community service within the next year.
"The offender stated to ACT Corrective Services that the end of that marriage and his anger towards the [victim] contributed to the current offences," Acting Justice Robinson said.
"He stated that the offences were not premeditated and he was unaware that the [victim] would be at his friend's house.
"He told the author of the pre-sentence report that, upon reflection, he now feels angry with himself for his behaviour and embarrassed to be in this situation at his age."
Acting Justice Robinson said Hambesis had been assessed as a low risk of reoffending.
"I find the offender's conduct on July 29, 2019 was out of character and that that conduct was not likely to be repeated given his age, an appropriate lifestyle and the fact that he has otherwise not engaged in any crimes of violence or dishonesty," the judge said.
The court heard Tuifua had already been sentenced for his role in the incident.
Hambesis first came to public attention in the 1980s, when he was on a weightlifting scholarship at the Australian Institute of Sport.
In 1988, he told a Senate inquiry he feared being thrown out of the institute if he did not take anabolic steroids to improve his weightlifting performance, with performance targets set at levels that were impossible to achieve without them.
Reports in The Canberra Times from that year say Hambesis also admitted during the inquiry to smuggling banned drugs into Australia for then-institute weightlifting coach Lyn Jones.