22 February 2023

Jack Wighton, Latrell Mitchell plead not guilty to charges over alleged Canberra fight

| Albert McKnight
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Latrell Mitchell and Jack Wighton

Latrell Mitchell (left) and Jack Wighton faced the Canberra courts on Wednesday. Photos: Albert McKnight.

A lawyer said “every story has two sides” after a court heard that Indigenous All-Star players Jack Wighton and Latrell Mitchell would challenge the charges against them over an alleged fight in central Canberra.

The pair were arrested after officers were called to what ACT Policing said were “reports of a disturbance” near a Bunda Street nightclub at about 3:45 am on 5 February 2023. They had been preparing to play for the Indigenous All-Stars against the NZ Maori All-Stars in Rotorua the following weekend.

Their lawyers entered not guilty pleas to all charges on their behalf when they appeared in the ACT Magistrates Court to face them for the first time on Wednesday (22 February).

They also asked for their clients to be granted simple bail conditions, with Mitchell’s barrister Jack Pappas saying his client’s original conditions had been “entirely unnecessary”.

READ ALSO John Papalii jailed for assault that left teammate unconscious

Magistrate James Stewart granted the bail variations, recorded the not guilty pleas and listed the matters for a three-day hearing from 30 October 2023.

Afterwards, Mitchell’s lawyer, Tom Taylor of Hugo Law Group, told media outside the court that, “Every story has two sides and we are going to defend Latrell’s”.

“Jack has pleaded not guilty. He will defend the charges in due course,” Wighton’s lawyer Maarten Vlot added.

READ ALSO ‘Racial slur’ allegedly started Australia Day assault that left two brothers unconscious

Wighton, who is with the Canberra Raiders, was charged with fighting in a public place and failing to comply with an exclusion direction.

Mitchell, who plays for the South Sydney Rabbitohs, was also charged with fighting in a public place, as well as affray and resisting a territory public official.

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Spending public money on a 3 day hearing on such a tenuous charge is a waste. The Police will drop these charges imo.

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