Police have thrown out fighting charges against NRL superstars Latrell Mitchell and Jack Wighton. Prosecutor Sam Bargwanna decided not to offer any more evidence on Wednesday morning, ending the prosecution of the star duo.
The most senior police officer involved in the duo's arrest - Sergeant David Power - admitted on Tuesday he gave false evidence and lied under oath while testifying. He initially said he'd removed former Canberra player Wighton from Fiction nightclub after seeing him with clenched fists, anger in his face and grabbing another man by the shirt in an aggressive manner.
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But Wighton's lawyer Steve Boland pieced together a timeline via CCTV footage that forced him to admit his "memory had failed me" and that what he'd said hadn't happened. Sgt Power later addressed Wighton, saying: "Sorry, Jack, if that's what happened mate, I thought I saw something different… I'm sorry."
The star duo had been at Canberra nightclub Fiction celebrating Wighton's 30th birthday, before they spilled onto the street when the former Raider was removed from the venue for alleged aggressive behaviour. Police had accused Mitchell and Wighton of fighting each other after the former Raider was given an exclusion direction.
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South Sydney fullback Mitchell could be heard pleading with police to ease up while they were arresting him, his friends heard telling the officers to stop their "police brutality". Mitchell, 25, had been charged with affray, fighting in a public place and resisting a territory official, while Wighton, 30, was charged with fighting in a public place and failing to comply with an exclusion direction.
On Tuesday, Mr Boland accused the senior police officer of framing his client. "It is orchestrated what you did, every step of the way ... you tried to have this man and his mate arrested on criminal offences when there was poison at the root of the case," he told the court.
Sgt Power also admitted he had called eight officers involved in the arrest to a "roundtable" meeting to agree on a version of events. "It has all the hallmarks of a man that knew he'd done the wrong thing and needed to get his story straight," Mr Boland told the court. Sgt Power replied: "I can see why you might think that."
Among the group protesting with police was Canberra captain Elliott Whitehead, who told one officer watching Mitchell's arrest "the way you came over was out of order". Sgt Power said he "didn't see an issue with it" even after watching the footage of the arrest.
Vision played on Monday showed Mitchell surrendering onto his knees before police elbowed, kneed and pushed him face-down onto the ground. Mitchell feared for his life and was a "weeping mess", the court heard.
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