|ESPN.com: Surfing||[Print without images]|
|Despite the setbacks created by the assault, Gilmore has learned from the experience.|
The man who attacked five-time world champion surfer Stephanie Gilmore with a iron bar in 2010 pleaded guilty in an Australian courtroom Thursday and was sentenced to four years in jail, according to Australian news sources.
Described in court as a danger to the public with a history of violence, drug abuse and mental illness, Julius Sterling Fox, 27, has been in custody since his Dec. 27, 2010 attack on Gilmore, during which the now 24-year-old ASP Women's World Champ sustained a broken wrist and a head laceration.
The attack was "totally unprovoked and must have been an extremely alarming experience," Judge James Black told the courtroom before handing down the jail sentence. Fox, who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, has already spent nearly 600 days behind bars since his arrest.
On top of the physical injuries, the nighttime attack in the stairwell of the surfer's Tweeds Heads apartment building reportedly rattled Gilmore psychologically and was widely blamed for her relatively lackluster performance during the 2011 title race, which kicked off about six weeks after the attack.
Gilmore, who could not be reached for comment for this story, held a competitive record up to that point that remains an unprecedented feat at the highest level of women's and men's pro surfing: The Aussie regular-footer won four championship titles in her first four attempts, from 2007 to 2010.
The season after the attack, her ranking dropped to world number three. But when the 2012 season kicked off at the end of February, Gilmore showed she was back in top form, winning on the Gold Coast, two other World Tour stops and securing the World Title at the Roxy Pro Biarritz in July.
As part of the sentencing, Judge Black ordered Fox to be released on parole in December of next year. Fox's defense attorney Cameron Bell told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that his client never applied for bail during his more than 18-month stint behind bars leading up to Thursday's court appearance.
"It tells us a story of what he came from," Bell said. "He just did not want to make a bail application, so it's very sad that somebody would actually not even seek to be returned to the community."