- Sensational development on Wednesday morning
- Sergeant admitted his testimony against Wighton was false
- The officer apologized to Wighton in court on Tuesday
Charges against rugby league stars Latrell Mitchell and Jack Wighton have been dropped, a day after a senior police officer involved in their arrests admitted making false statements in court.
The pair, distant cousins and now teammates at Souths, have spent the last two days in the ACT Magistrates Court over incidents that are alleged to have occurred on an evening celebrating Mr Wighton’s 30th birthday in Canberra in February.
Mr Wighton was charged with breaching an exclusion order and fighting in a public place, while Mr Mitchell was charged with fighting in a public place, affray and resisting an area officer.
Wighton (left) and Mitchell (right, pictured outside court on Tuesday) are in the clear after police made a high-profile response to holes in their argument that were exposed in court
Souths star Mitchell (pictured outside court on Wednesday) was charged with affray in a public place, affray and resisting an area officer
It was initially claimed that Mr Wighton was given a disqualification notice after police observed him “pushing and shoving” a man at Fiction nightclub, with what police suspected was “clenching his fists” and having an “angry” expression on his face that violence could occur.
But on Tuesday, Sergeant David Power – the supervisor of a group of officers involved in the incident – was shown a series of CCTV cameras which Wighton’s lawyer Steve Boland said showed significant gaps in police’s description of the night.
Sergeant Power then told the court his claims that he had thrown Mr Wighton out of the club were no longer true.
Sergeant Power admitted: “What I saw didn’t match the footage” and admitted he had a “memory problem”.
“What I saw didn’t seem to have happened and my memory failed me,” he said.
The pair (pictured together on the night of the alleged fight) have officially become South Sydney teammates since Wednesday
Mr Boland accused Sergeant Power of attempting to “defame” his client by “inventing” evidence.
“It wasn’t a lie. “That’s what I believed,” Sergeant Power said, denying he had misled the court.
The sergeant later apologized to Mr Wighton in court.
“Sorry Jack if that happened, buddy. “I thought I saw something different,” he said to Mr. Wighton.
Under further questioning, Mr Boland asked whether it was a “fact that you made false statements”, to which Sergeant Power replied that it “apparently was so”.
As Mr Wighton and Mr Mitchell left the club and walked away, a “fight” is said to have occurred.
The couple’s defense had claimed there was no fight because “no punches were thrown and no one was on the ground”.
The police sergeant, who admitted making false statements about why Wighton was thrown out of a nightclub before the pair’s alleged argument, apologized to the ex-Canberra star in court
While some officers detained Mr. Wighton, police used elbows, knees and a spray can to take Mr. Mitchell to the ground.
Using a baton, they pulled one of his arms from underneath his body so police could handcuff him and told him to “stop resisting,” video footage shown to the court confirmed.
Mr Mitchell could be heard crying in pain. The defense told the court on Monday that Mr Mitchell was “descended into a crying state and feared for his life” during the trial.
Meanwhile, friends of the couple pleaded with the police. A friend who videotaped the incident was heard telling officers that it was “police brutality.”
Prosecutor Sam Bargwanna announced the dismissal of the charges, saying: xxxxx