Convicted murderer Chris Dawson leads a cast of former professional footballers who have spent time behind bars and earned the title of Frownlow Felon. Dawson was recently found guilty of murdering his wife and joins his fellow footballers as a nominee for The Fronwnlow Medal or The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame.
Dawson played first grade rugby league for the Newtown Jest during the 1970s, but is more famous for murdering his wife Lynette and for the 40-year search for the truth.
The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off-field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern-day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. NRL player Shaun Kenny-Dowall won the inaugural medal in 2015, while NRL star Jarryd Hayne is the most recent recipient.
The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame honours former players and players who received media attention in previous seasons, for similarly scandalous behaviour, and its inductees include Ben Cousins and Julian O’Neill.
The Frownlow Medal Felons:
NRL/ Rugby League
Jarryd Hayne – Sent to prison for raping a young woman.
Craig Field – Served eight years in prison for manslaughter.
Daine Laurie – Sent to prison for wounding with intent to murder and fire arms charges (Played NRL between 2008 and 2012).
David Fifita – Spent time in jail in Bali after being charged with an alleged assault outside a nightclub.
Jamil Hopoate – Sentenced to one year in jail for assaulting two men. Later sentenced to a 12-month intensive corrections order for domestic violence, alcohol and driving offences. Sentenced a third time for drug charges.
Joel Romelo – Jailed for three years and four months for stealing cars and high-speed chases with police, as well as a brutal attack on his ex-girlfriend which broke her eye socket. It was alleged that Romelo ripped chunks from her hair, punched and choked her until she almost lost consciousness, because she wouldn’t give him her phone passcode.
Blake Ferguson – Spent 29 nights in jail in Tokyo, Japan, after an alleged assault and possession of cocaine in a restaurant.
Matt Lodge – Spent time in Rikers Island prison in The USA for a misdemeanour reckless assault charge. He forced his way into a Manhattan apartment and assaulted a man while his wife and their nine-year-old child hid. He also avoided prison despite assaulting his ex-partner years before the incident in New York.
John Tobin – Sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in prison for his involvement in a drug smuggling ring operating out of Sydney.
John Touma – Sentenced to nine years in prison after pleading guilty to being the ring leader of a drug syndicate supplying, possessing and trafficking dangerous drugs
Matt Seers – Sentenced to four years in prison for supplying and trafficking cocaine. He is also the cousin of another Frownlow Felon, Craig Field.
Manu Vatuvei – Sentenced to three years and seven months in prison for importing methamphetamine into New Zealand.
Gary Sullivan – Sentenced to 20 years in prison for armed robbery. He and his stepfather pulled off 6 out of the top 10 heists in total amount stolen in Queensland history.
Paul Hayward – Received a 30-year sentence after being caught attempting to smuggle heroin from Thailand to Australia. Served 11 years in prison in Thailand, before being granted a royal pardon. Later died of a heroin overdose.
John Elias – Jailed for nine months in 1995 after pleading guilty to two counts of supplying amphetamines, one count of possessing F1 sub-machine gun parts and one count of possessing prohibited articles, namely military-style flak vests.
Manase Fainu – Sentenced to prison for stabbing a man outside a Mormon Church dance in Sydney.
AFL/ Australian Rules Football
Daniel Kerr – Spent five nights in prison for endangering the lives of two people after starting a fire at a house.
Nick Stevens – Sentenced to eight months in prison, then again to six months, after being found guilty of savagely assaulting and threatening his ex-partner.
Brennan Stack – Sentenced to three years imprisonment for assaulting multiple women in a Perth carpark.
Liam Jurrah – Sentenced to six months in prison after being charged with four counts of aggravated assault, to one of which he pleaded guilty in 2013. Sent back into custody in 2022 after allegedly breaking into a house and assaulting a woman with a machete.
Ben Cousins – The Grand Daddy of The Fronwlow Medal. A true off-field legend. Received a 12-month prison sentence in 2017 for numerous offences, including breaching a violence restraining order. Denied parole after failing a drug test. Back behind bars in 2018 for multiple offences including breaking another violence restraining order. Released on bail in April 2019.
Brian Lake – Locked up four hours in 2013 – with his wife – for drunken behaviour. Spent five nights in a Japanese prison in 2018 after being arrested for a drunken bar fight in Osaka.
Justin Murphy – Served two stints behind bars. Jailed for six months in 2017 over a series attacks on his ex-partner, including a sickening blowtorch incident which resulted in the Victorian woman having a finger amputated when it could not be saved following a series of surgical procedures. Upon release, continued his campaign of terror against the woman, and was sent back to prison.
Craig Wells – Sentenced to six years imprisonment for giving a 14-year-old girl alcohol and cannabis before raping her. As he raped the girl for a second time, he was to say: “I wish I could get you pregnant and have babies with you but you’re too young.’’
Kerem Bulut – Spent time at Silverwater Prison in Sydney for offences including malicious wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm; robbery in company; participate in criminal group; assist criminal activity, affray and intimidation.
Ahmad Elrich – Served four years in prison for a number of gun offences and possession of a drug after being pulled over on his motorcycle because of a faulty tail light.