Videos have been released that show the alleged fight between NRL stars Jack Wighton and Latrell Mitchell, as well as their arrest.
The footballers, who are now both with the South Sydney Rabbitohs, had all charges against them dismissed today (1 November) after they faced a hearing in the ACT Magistrates Court this week.
Mr Wighton had been accused of being “angry” in the Canberra nightclub Fiction in the early hours of 5 February 2023 before being given a direction to leave the area by police.
He and Mitchell were then captured on closed-circuit television vision (CCTV) footage, tendered to the court, slowly pushing each other back and forth on the street while others tried to intervene.
Mitchell was also alleged to have shoved another person. CCTV then showed numerous police officers swarming him on Bunda Street to arrest him.
After their charges were dismissed when the prosecution offered no more evidence, Mr Mitchell’s solicitor, Tom Taylor of Hugo Law Group, said the claims Mr Wighton had been aggressive in Fiction were “a fantasy” and he had been “excluded unlawfully”.
He said a police officer had taken down Mr Mitchell before others arrived and also grabbed him.
He complied while being forced to the concrete where he lay face down, “screaming in pain”, while police kneed and elbowed him in the head and back.
“Mr Wighton and Mr Mitchell had exchanged words whilst walking away from the Fiction nightclub. However, that exchange did not involve a fight of any kind, which is what was alleged against them,” he said.
A police sergeant came under fire during the hearing, with Mr Wighton’s barrister, Steven Boland, accusing him of trying to have the two NRL players convicted “when you knew that there was poison at the root” of the investigation.
An ACT Policing spokesperson said police noted the decision by the court to dismiss the matter.
“We will work with the ACT DPP to review the proceedings and consider whether any internal processes and procedures need to be reviewed,” the spokesperson said.
“The AFP has a robust professional standards framework that can consider officer conduct if required.”
Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury said the outcome of the case should give the community confidence in the legal system, as the court had tested it openly and transparently.
“That is the basis of our justice system. It is why we have the presumption of innocence,” he said.
He said he thought there would now be an opportunity for ACT Policing to reflect on “how the case was constructed”.