Former NRL star Sam Burgess will appeal a conviction for intimidating his former father-in-law during what the magistrate described as an angry, aggressive altercation that would have been “frightening for any Australian.”
Moss Vale Local Court magistrate Robert Rabbidge found on Friday morning Burgess had intimidated Mitchell Hooke at the family’s Glenquarry property in October 2019 with the intention of causing him physical and mental harm.
Sam Burgess has been found guilty of intimidationCredit:Rhett Wyman
Burgess was convicted and given a two-year community correction order.
“I am confused by the decision, we’ve appealed the decision,” Burgess said outside court. “I won’t say anything further.”
Magistrate Rabbidge said Burgess walked over to Mr Hooke during the argument, pointed his finger at him from “1.5 metres to two metres” away and yelled, “You’re a f–king piece of shit, I’m going to get you.”
He said Burgess’ “angry, aggressive conduct” would have had greater impact given his 116-kilogram weight.
“An enraged Sam Burgess would be a frightening figure for any Australian,” Magistrate Rabbidge said.
Mitchell Hooke, the former father-in-law of Sam Burgess. Credit:James Brickwood
An AVO will also now be in place for two years, preventing Burgess from visiting the Glenquarry property, or any place where Mr Hooke works or lives during that time.
A possible conflict of interest was raised on Friday morning before the verdict was handed down when the court was told Mr Hooke had emailed police prosecutor Jamie Palmer on Thursday disclosing an old family connection between the Hooke family and Magistrate Rabbidge.
Mt Rabbidge responded he was not biased and proceeded with his decision.
Originally, Burgess was charged with one charge each of intimidation and common assault after his ex-wife called the police following the argument. The assault charge was handed to Burgess as a back-up charge if police were unsuccessful with the more serious offence of intimidation.
In his closing submissions last month, Burgess’ barrister Phillip Boulten, SC, argued Ms Burgess and Mr Hooke had deliberately taken serious allegations against Mr Burgess to The Australian newspaper in an effort to damage his client’s reputation ahead of the court proceedings.
Ms Burgess admitted to the court in November she and her father had made the choice to hand a 50-page affidavit to The Australian detailing alleged drug use and domestic violence by Burgess. She said she did not want to contribute to the NRL’s toxic system of covering things up.
Burgess remains stood down from his coaching position at the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Both the NRL and the Rabbitohs said no action would be taken against Burgess until the NRL’s own investigation was complete. The findings are set to be finalised in the coming weeks.
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