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The most senior police official involved in the arrest of Latrell Mitchell and Jack Wighton has been accused of concocting a “total and utter fantasy” after admitting his memory failed him during a courtroom grilling over the incident.
Sergeant David Power, in the witness box on the second day of the hearing at ACT Magistrates Court, admitted key details he provided in the case did not occur. Power had previously alleged he kicked Wighton out of Fiction nightclub after he saw the NRL star with clenched fists, anger in his face and holding a man by the shirt.
Police alleged Wighton and Mitchell, who will become teammates at South Sydney next year, fought each other outside the venue. However, Power claimed he had a “long-term memory issue” after his version of events was challenged by Wighton’s lawyer, Steve Boland.
“What I saw appears to have not happened and my memory has failed me,” Power said, adding that he had not intentionally misled the court.
The bombshell revelation came after Boland used CCTV footage to put together a timeline of events that contradicted Power’s version. Boland labelled Power’s testimony as “a total and utter fantasy you dreamt up to justify everything that happens”.
Mitchell and Wighton were out celebrating the latter’s 30th birthday in February. Police alleged they had to intervene to break up the fight and arrest Mitchell, while reminding Wighton he had been issued with an exclusion direction and to leave.
NRL players Latrell Mitchell and Jack Wighton arrive at ACT Magistrates Court on Tuesday.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen
Wighton allegedly responded “lock me up with him, you’re f—wits”, before he was also arrested.
Mitchell could be heard crying out in pain and screaming “please” as the players’ friends begged police to stop their “police brutality” as they handcuffed him.
The court heard that Mitchell feared for his life and was a “weeping mess”.
Canberra captain Elliott Whitehead was part of a group of onlookers who told one of the police officers that Mitchell’s treatment during the arrest was “out of order”. The court on Monday heard that officers used elbows, knees, a baton and spray can to cuff Mitchell.
At the time of his arrest, the Rabbitohs fullback said: “I’ve done nothing wrong but be a blackfella in Australia.”
Mitchell was charged with affray, fighting in a public place and resisting a territory official.
Wighton is charged with fighting in a public place and failing to comply with an exclusion direction.
After watching footage of the arrest, Power said he “didn’t see an issue with it”.
The hearing continues.
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