NRL star Haas avoids criminal conviction

Marty Silk
·3-min read

Brisbane Broncos NRL star Payne Haas has publicly apologised after being put on a two-year conditional release order for swearing at and intimidating police in Tweed Heads last month.

The NSW Origin and Australian representative had been drinking before he fired up at police officers who asked for his ID at Jack Evans Boat Harbour on the night of January 16.

Haas, who was with his pregnant partner Leilani Moheno, was arrested and charged with using offensive language and two counts of intimidating police.

Police prosecutors dropped one charge of intimidating police and the 21-year-old agreed to plead guilty to the other charges in Tweed Heads Local Court on Thursday.

Magistrate Geoff Dunlevy placed a conditional release order on Haas, a form of good behaviour bond, warning that if he reoffended he would be resentenced.

He didn't record a conviction, saying Haas was entitled to the "maximum discount" after pleading guilty at the earliest opportunity.

"I am satisfied the balance should fall in your favour," Mr Dunlevy said.

He said magistrates were expected to take a protective stance towards police and deter potential offenders when sentencing for serious crimes.

But he said that was mitigated by Haas' good character, good prospects of rehabilitation and genuine remorse.

"It seems as if this was a one off event, an anomaly, and unlikely to be repeated again," Mr Dunlevy said.

Haas' lawyer Dave Garratt had argued that Haas had been grieving the recent death of his quadriplegic brother at the time of the incident.

He said a conviction would be "quite dire" for the 21-year-old, who hadn't grown up in a stable family environment with both his parents spending time in custody.

Mr Garratt argued that his client's professional rugby league career, which was now under threat, offered the first form of stability in his life.

"Rugby league has been his saviour," he told the court.

Haas was remorseful, he said, and had voluntarily gone to the local police station to apologise three days after the incident.

Haas' pregnant partner was in the court room, with his lawyer saying that the couple just wanted to get on with their lives.

Mr Dunlevy said the incident had only lasted three minutes, but it had put Haas' life at the crossroads.

"These three minutes were a momentous three minutes in your life," the magistrate said.

Haas later issued a publicly apology, admitting his actions were "totally unacceptable".

"I did the wrong thing and let myself down as well as my family and the (Brisbane Broncos) club - but most importantly, I acted in way that showed disrespect to the police, and I am really sorry for that," he said.

"I will learn from this incident and I will be a better person in the future."

Broncos CEO Paul White said the club was working with the NRL integrity unit on finalising the matter.

He noted that Haas had taken ownership of his actions, and apologised to police and the public for his behaviour that night.

"Those steps, off his own bat, show that Payne wants to be better and improve as a person, and we will continue to work with Payne to ensure he sure he continues to receive the support and education that he needs," Mr White said in a statement.

While a rising star of the game, it isn't the first time Haas has been in trouble with the NRL's behavioural watchdog.

Haas was fined $20,000 and suspended for the opening four rounds of the 2019 NRL season for failing to comply with an NRL integrity unit investigation over a matter involving members of his family.