UPDATE: Hackett admits he was hooked on sleeping pills

Grant Hackett

UPDATE 1/7/12: An investigation has revealed that Grant Hackett battled a “heavy reliance” on the controversial sleeping pill Stilnox towards the end of his swimming career

Hackett confirmed that he started using the pills after they were administered by swimming officials during meets, including the Olympics. He admitted that he overused them, adding it was always under supervision of a team doctor or a general practitioner.

“At one point they scared me,” he said. “They’re evil.


Hackett further used the pills to help him sleep while suffering the shoulder injury between the Athens and Beijing Games, but his use of them spiralled to a point where he could not remember things.

Hackett denied using Stilnox after his career ended with a silver medal in the 1500m at the Beijing Games.

“My experiences taught me that Stilnox should be taken with caution, but to suggest any reckless involvement on my part would be another shattering blow at this time,” Hackett said.

Stilnox is widely known to cause strange behaviour, hallucinations, delusions and impaired judgment as well as affect reasoning.

UPDATE 27/06/12:

Former senior members of the Victorian police force have today questioned why Grant Hackett was not arrested on the night he trashed his own home and allegedly assaulted his wife Candice Alley.

The Australian reports:

A former senior policeman who recently left Victoria Police said force policy dictated that Hackett should have been arrested as soon as an allegation of assault was made.

“Forget that it was a celebrity sportsman,” he said. “If that were you or I, we would have been arrested immediately and rightly so.”

Victoria Police yesterday confirmed their investigation into Hackett’s conduct was still under way and would not rule out laying charges against the former Olympian…

Former assistant commissioner Noel Ashby said: “Everyone should be treated the same whoever they may be. If the police had doubts . . . they must intervene immediately and . . . if that means arrest, then that’s what ought to have occurred.

Earlier this week, former Australian Olympic Champion Grant Hackett appeared in an exclusive interview with 60 Minutes and broke his silence about his violent rampage at his family’s Melbourne apartment in October last year.

He admitted to smashing up the apartment, yelling at his wife and intentionally breaking her most prized possessions. Hackett strenuously denied physically hurting his wife and staunchly refuted allegations that his actions were witnessed by the couple’s children.

Hackett has been married to singer Candice Alley for five years. They have two children together, twins Jagger and Charlize – who Hackett has not been allowed to see for the past 70 days.

He agreed to give the interview in an attempt to draw a line under the incident, ahead of his role as a Channel 9 commentator for the London Olympics next month.

One of the photos that was published after Hackett’s rampage. Photos via Sunday Telegraph.

Hackett said it was an argument with his wife that brought his rampage. Graphic photos that emerged in the media a few months ago, showed an overturned grand piano, a door that had be punched in and furniture and wine bottles littered across the floor.

The reason for his actions? Hackett said he wanted to end his marriage.

“I wanted it to end at that point. That’s how I felt, that was my mindset when I was doing it,” he said.

”It gets to a point, it’s like a Coke bottle that keeps getting shaken and shaken and shaken and shaken and if you don’t release it, it just explodes. It wasn’t pretty. I was just at a point where I wanted it to be over.”


‘It was midnight so both of our children were in bed. I threw some picture frames on the ground and that’s when my wife left… I just continued to push over furniture and make a mess… But by no means did I hurt anybody or my children sitting there witnessing, that just didn’t happen.”

Hackett said he would “never hurt his wife”.

But whether that is true is entirely dependent on your definition of ‘hurt’.

Australia’s White Ribbon Campaign, which encourages men to swear an oath never to commit an act of violence against women, defines domestic violence as:

“An abuse of power perpetrated mainly (but not only) by men against women in a relationship or after separation. It occurs when one partner attempts physically or psychologically to dominate and control the other. Domestic violence takes a number of forms. The most commonly acknowledged forms are physical and sexual violence, threats and intimidation, emotional and social abuse and economic deprivation.”

It is hard to imagine how witnessing your partner smashing up furniture, breaking bottles and destroying a door could not be threatening, intimidating or psychologically damaging.

And it’s hard to imagine how two small children could not be deeply affected and traumatised by the sound and sight of their father destroying their own home.

Hackett claims the children didn’t see it but he contradicts himself by also stating his wife removed one of the children mid-rampage and came back to get the other one. So they clearly witnessed something, even if it was the after-affects of the destruction. Not to mention the experience of hearing that kind of violence and being woken in the middle of the night to escape it.

As 60 Minutes aired last night, the community took to Twitter to post their reactions:

The International Violence Against Women Survey has found that in Australia:

– Close to half of all women (40%) have experienced violence since the age of 15;

– Just under one third of women (29%) have experienced physical assault;

– Nearly one in five women (17%) have experienced sexual assault;

– Nearly one in six women (16%) have experienced violence by a current or previous partner in their lifetime;

Hackett wondered out loud on 60 Minutes last night, ”Is my reputation damaged forever after, you know, one mistake? and I’m not blowing that off it was a bad mistake and I take full accountability for that – but I’ll be defined for my actions moving forward and I hope people take the time to judge me on that.”

UPDATE: Editor in Chief of and The Punch David Penberthy joined in the debate today saying:

“The question of whether any actual violence was involved has not been resolved, but cemented as a he said/she said issue. Candice Alley’s lawyers tried to prevent the interview from going ahead, and Alley refused to provide any comment to 60 Minutes.

From what we can understand though, she has stood by her original version of events, which is that Hackett did throw her into a window. Hackett denies it. While we can only take them both on their word, there was one strange moment in Hackett’s interview which suggests that someone needs to sit the bloke down and provide him with a simple definition of what constitutes domestic violence. Hackett’s assertion that he did not threaten Alley in any way does not past muster.

You do not have to hit someone to threaten them. It is hard to imagine a more threatening scenario, for a woman less than half Hackett’s size, than being holed up in an apartment with this drunken and violent man, as he systematically trashes everything they own. His claim that he did not verbally threaten her is also dubious. To his modest credit he did not blame alcohol for his actions, he blamed himself. Yet if he was as drunk as he says he was, how on earth can he reliably remember what he did nor did not say to his wife as the mayhem was unfolding?…

The final point I would make about Hackett and his limited number of backers out there is that they should shelve their muted sense of indignation that these are private matters which do not belong in the public arena. They are not private matters. Domestic violence is not a private issue, it is a public issue, and any attempt to suggest otherwise plays straight into the mindset which for years has seen neighbours remain silent while all hell breaks loose next door, or the cops chuck a u-turn on the front porch when they discover that the screaming coming from inside is “only” a domestic.”

Do you think Grant Hackett’s reputation has been damaged forever? Are you more sympathetic to his position after watching or reading about his response? Do you think our community can deal better with the tragic problem of violence against women?