Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has backed hooker Tom Starling after he was charged with five counts of assaulting an officer in the execution of duty, affray and resisting or hindering a police officer in the execution of duty.
The 22-year-old says he was bashed by police but NSW Police allege that Starling was punched when he reached for an officer’s gun during an altercation outside a Central Coast restaurant on Saturday night (5 December).
Four men were arrested after police were called to the venue at Kincumber following reports that one patron was failing to leave the venue when directed to by security.
One police officer was treated at the scene for a cut to his hand. No other officers were injured.
Starling will not be training with the Raiders today but has not been stood down by the NRL as of Monday morning.
Stuart said he supports Starling after hearing his side of the story, especially following the Curtis Scott allegations.
“The drag on of the court system … affected Curtis last year,” Stuart said.
“As a club, we have to move forward and get on with it but we will certainly support Tommy going on what he told me yesterday with his version of events, telling me the truth which I asked for.
“We will support Tom but we will move on. We have a season to prepare for now and we cannot let this drag any other player down. We will just make sure we get behind him and move forward with our football, and Tom will too, he is a good person.”
Stuart said Starling was shaken up and disappointed.
“Speaking to Tom, defending his mother and brother is something that I was obviously OK with. If he did not jump in to defend his brother and mother I would probably be more disappointed in the guy,” he said.
“But his version of events is a lot different to what is being publicly stated.
“The point today out there about reaching for an officer’s gun, no one in their right mind would do that and I highly unlikely think that Tommy would.”
Scott was originally charged with two counts of assaulting a police officer among other offences after being tasered following Australia Day celebrations in Sydney.
All of the charges were dropped or dismissed and Scott was awarded more than $100,000 in legal costs in September.
Starling was reportedly celebrating the 21st birthday of Newcastle player Connor Watson’s brother with other NRL identities.
The Raiders said that the matter had been referred to the NRL Integrity Commission and the club would not comment further at this time.
The men were all granted conditional bail and are set to appear before Gosford Local Court on Thursday, 21 January 2021.