Footy investigation may enter third month

ON TRACK: Eastside Blues celebrated five in a row last year and are on track to make it six premierships in a row after the Big Rivers season was thrown into turmoil with a long investigation into a pre and post-match brawl in May.
ON TRACK: Eastside Blues celebrated five in a row last year and are on track to make it six premierships in a row after the Big Rivers season was thrown into turmoil with a long investigation into a pre and post-match brawl in May.

The investigation into a brawl at a Big Rivers WorkSafe League game may enter a third month.

It has already been 51 days since spectators and players tangled at the end of a spiteful game between Kalano Bombers and Katherine Camels at Nitmiluk Oval on May 25.

AFL NT has appointed independent investigators to probe the wild scenes which followed the end of match the where players and spectators were involved in fighting.

Video evidence was used almost immediately for the laying of 18 charges against five players as a result of the brawl.

But the process of hearing those charges has been delayed ever since, waiting for the investigation to conclude.

Those five players have been unable to play ever since, waiting for their opportunity to answer the charges.

The long delay of both the investigation, and the tribunal hearing, has seen the league competition disrupted with several games forfeited.

The season is fast slipping away, finals are due to start on September 1 with three full rounds of the ordinary season still to play.

A Katherine-based match review panel is now going to go ahead with the tribunal hearing, hoping the other investigation may still be able to assist.

That review/hearing is to be held on Saturday, July 28 –  which would be 64 days after the match which sparked it all.

”The investigation is ongoing; it is independent, and needs to be thorough and without interference,” AFL NT regional development manager Julie Hunter said.

Ms Hunter said the tribunal had considered the position of players and impact on their respective playing careers, with the next round of matches scheduled for July 28.

She said the tribunal also evaluated the effect information from the investigation may have on any findings and subsequent penalties.

“It is hoped that the deferral will allow time for relevant information from the investigation to be considered when hearing these matters,” she said.

A total of 18 charges were made against five players as a result of the brawl which followed the Big Rivers game in Katherine on the Friday night.

Four players were from Kalano Football Club and one from the Katherine Camels.

Charges range from serious misconduct, instigating a melee to striking.

At the time the charges were laid, the Katherine panel said all incidents should be referred directly to the tribunal. 

“As a full investigation into the incident is underway the tribunal has subsequently deferred all matters until advised by investigators to proceed. 

“As such, in accordance with rule 9.4.4 of the AFLNT Rules and Regulations 2018, of which the NT WorkSafe BRFL is bound by, the players are not eligible to play until the matter has been adjudicated by the Tribunal, and any prescribed penalty is served.”

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