Big Rivers brawl aftermath

AFLNT has released an official statement today on the almost final wrap up of a brawl in the Big Rivers WorkSafe Football League on May 18.

The statement comes on the eve of finals in the competition.

This is the full AFLNT statement:

BRFL investigation report and Tribunal outcomes

AFL Northern Territory (AFLNT) can advise the investigation into the Men’s Round 4 NT Worksafe BRFL game between Kalano Bombers and Katherine Camels at Nitmiluk Oval on Friday 18 May 2018 is now complete. 

With the exception of two players (Gabriel Henry and Abraham Henry) who are yet to front match tribunal, the outcomes have been finalised.

The independent investigation published a number of key findings and recommendations, of which the following details and player tribunal records can be shared;

There is sufficient available evidence in this matter to support the charges already laid by the MRP against:

Jesse HOGAN #15 Kalano Bombers

Striking – pleaded guilty

Instigating a melee – pleaded guilty

Engaging in a melee – pleaded not guilty but was found guilty of the charge

Jesse Hogan was issued with an eight-match suspension, which he served during BRFL Rounds 5 to 12.

Jason HOGAN #23 Kalano Bombers 

Engaging in a melee – pleaded guilty

2 x striking charges – pleaded guilty

Jason Hogan was issued with a seven-match suspension, which he served during BRFL Rounds 5 to 11.

James HERSEY #11 Katherine Camels

Abusive language in relation or directed at an umpire – pleaded guilty

Serious misconduct – pleaded guilty

Engaging in a melee – pleaded guilty

James Hersey was issued with a five-match suspension, which he served during BRFL Rounds 5 to 9, while AFLNT awaited results of the investigation and the independent Tribunal. Hersey commenced playing in Round 10. 

Gabriel HENRY #5 Kalano Bombers (still to be heard by the Tribunal)

AbrahamHENRY #13 Kalano Bombers (still to be heard by the Tribunal)

Since Kalano is not playing in finals, any outcomes for the two players will not affect the remainder of the 2018 BRFL season. 

The competition guidelines and AFLNT Rules & Regulations provide for a player to be ineligible to play until the matter is heard. The independent Tribunal has the option to proceed without the players, however, the club must be notified of a further scheduled hearing. Attempts to notify the club over the past fortnight have not been answered. 

Separate to the incidents picked up by the MRP, the investigation recommended that Sam SVERDLOFF #33 Katherine Camels be charged with one count under 19.2.2(a)(vi) "engaging in rough conduct against an opponent which in the circumstance is unreasonable."

He was issued that charge on 20 August and Sverdloff pleaded not guilty but was found guilty by the independent Tribunal on 23 August. He was issued with a one-match suspension, which he served during Round 12. 

There were six key recommendations published in the investigation report:

1.    That if found guilty, the Tribunal impose significant penalty to each guilty party.

The NT Worksafe BRFL independent Tribunal has dealt with this matter for all available players.

2.    That, if lawful and where there is sufficient evidence to do so; impose charges for breaches of the "AFLNT Code of Conduct and Condition of Entry" and the "National Vilification and Discrimination Policy" - February 2013.

AFLNT can confirm that notices of charge were issued to five players under the National Vilification and Discrimination Policy.

Four players pleaded not guilty and were found not guilty but James HERSEY #11 Katherine Camelswas found guilty of being in breach of the National Vilification and Discrimination Policy: Section 4 – Prohibited Conduct, 4.1 and 4.2. 

In considering the penalties the independent disciplinary Tribunal can impose under section 9.5 of the Australian Football Member Protection Policy, the Tribunal determined that the most appropriate penalty in the circumstances is as follows:

That Hersey is required to attend and complete a compulsory education program that helps the player understand what is acceptable and unacceptable language and conduct under the Policy; and

That Hersey is to serve a minimum suspension of three matches, and is not to resume playing any competition football sanctioned by the AFLNT until both suspension and educational program are completed.

AFLNT is working with the AFL’s Indigenous and Social Policy Manager to provide the best education program for the player to undertake. 

Hersey served one of his suspended matches during Round 12 and Katherine Camels has since requested a deferral on the two remaining matches so that Hersey can play finals. The disciplinary Tribunal chair will make a decision on this deferral request ASAP and will take into account that the charge against Hersey was laid after the investigation report, three months after the initial incident.  

Further, one spectator is yet to be identified in relation to the incident.

3.    That both Kalano Football Club and Katherine Camels Football Club are "put on notice" advising that racial vilification and/or on field invasions by non-players will not be tolerated in the Big Rivers Football Competition.

AFLNT is working with the clubs involved to address these behaviours. This is part of a wider education program that will roll out across the entire league, and with the support of AFL’s Diversity and Education departments, to ensure AFL is a safe and inclusive environment free from vilification and discrimination.

4.    That the AFLNT give consideration to employing licensed crowd controllers at football games to monitor and control all persons who attend the game.

AFLNT staff in the region will work with local authorities to ensure the safety of all patrons.

5.    That all of the teams involved in the Big Rivers Football Competition are officially advised of the outcomes of this matter.

This official release, which contains the outcomes will be issued to all 2018 BRFL contacts by the AFLNT Competitions Manager. 

6.    That key personnel at AFLNT such as umpires, coaches, club managers, club presidents etc make themselves available to provide evidence by way of interview or statement when AFLNT investigations have been initiated.

AFLNT update the competition's policies and procedures on an annual basis and will look to include this recommendation in the 2019 iteration which governs all clubs and divisions.

AFLNT thanks the investigators and tribunal members for giving up their time and also extend our gratitude to the clubs and players who cooperated and remained patient while the complex matters were addressed. 

The results of the match tribunal hearings for Gabriel Henry and Abraham Henry will be shared once known. 

We hope the incident on May 18 will not overshadow what has been an otherwise successful, competitive and well-played 2018 NT Worksafe BRFL season. We wish all remaining teams and players the best for the finals.

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