Latrell Mitchell has broken his silence surrounding his “traumatic” arrest after police threw out fighting charges against him and Jack Wighton.
Prosecutor Sam Bargwanna decided not to offer any more evidence on Wednesday morning, ending the prosecution of the star NRL duo.
The most senior police officer involved in their arrest – Sergeant David Power – admitted on Tuesday he gave false evidence and lied under oath while testifying.
Lawyers for the NRL players flagged civil action would stem from the botched prosecution, with the ACT’s attorney-general reportedly considering a review into the case.
Mitchell, who was hugging and giggling with his distant cousin Wighton after the charges were pulled, admitted it had been a hugely difficult process to go through.
“I hope everyone knows and understands the seriousness of what’s going on and (it was) a massive hit on the community,” he told reporters outside court.
“For the last 10 months it’s been very hard for not only myself but my family and what they’ve had to read and endure … (it’s a) traumatic experience that I’ve had of Canberra.”
Sgt Power 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.
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.”
Wighton wouldn’t respond when asked what he made of the apology, instead paying tribute to the support of his former club and its CEO Don Furner.
“You backed me the whole way through and it means a lot to me … I spent so long at this club and in this town and the support is massive,” he told reporters.
“You’ve got to thank your family for backing you through moments like this, it was a long 10 months, there were a couple of big mistakes made and we come up with this result.”
The star duo had been at 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 the pair, who’ll be teammates at South Sydney next season, of fighting each other after Wighton was given an exclusion direction.
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.