Judiciary furore



The decision

By STEVE ARCHBOLD

A DUNGHUTTI Broncos under-14 junior league player has effectively escaped penalty for throwing a water bottle at a referee.

However, Beautizone Group 2 Rugby League judiciary chairman Peter Cutler has defended criticism levelled at the committee over the suspension.

During the match, the player, Michael Kelly had been spoken to by referee Michael Spence about his constant swearing and after a repeat offence Kelly was sent to the sin-bin.

When Kelly was walking from the field he threw a water bottle at Spence hitting him in the stomach and as a result Spence sent Kelly from the field.

Cutler and his panel of Ken Smith, Barry Clegg and David Thomas debated whether the suspension would be a month or a week before settling on a two week ban.

At the time the judiciary wasn't aware there were no junior league matches during those two weeks due to school holidays which meant Kelly has escaped penalty.

Cutler said there were people who thought the judiciary should have made an example of Kelly but he said there were 'extenuating circumstances.'

"Information provided to the judiciary showed Kelly's career had been incident free during seven years of junior rugby league matches so we thought that should be taken into account," he said.

"We believed Kelly should be given the benefit of the doubt as we don't feel he is a repeat offender, we felt the incident was the result of a brain explosion borne out of frustration.

"The judiciary also took into account the fact that Kelly apologised to Spence after the match and showed a great deal of regret and remorse." Cutler said he spoke to Kelly for 15 minutes after the judiciary hearing stressing that any repeat offence would cop a much harsher penalty.

"He knows we won't stand for this type of incident again," he said.

The reaction

By MITCHELL DALE

IRATE Coffs Harbour Comets officials have labelled the Group 2 Rugby League judiciary 'incompetent' after an Under-14s player was slapped on the wrist with a feather for throwing a water bottle at a referee.

The offender, Michael Kelly from Dunghutti Broncos, effectively escaped punishment after a laughable judiciary blunder resulted in his two-week suspension equalling no missed games.

Kelly was suspended for two weeks but will not miss a match because his two-week sentence was served over the Easter break, when no fixtures were played.

Yesterday, angry Comets officials vented their spleen over the leniency of the punishment.

"I find it hard to believe that a kid can throw a water bottle at a referee and get two weeks, which in real terms worked out to be nothing," a Comets official says.

"How does that get the message through to other players that you can't do that sort of thing.

"We would have been a bit happier if (Kelly) missed two games, but really it's assault and deserved more.

"He should have got at least six weeks.

"Where is the support for the referees?"

The judiciary's blooper which saw Kelly miss no matches was also heavily criticised.

"The judiciary have said they didn't know what the draw was (and were therefore unaware of the two-week break over Easter school holidays), but ignorance is no excuse," the source fumes.

"They should know the junior competition draw, it is part of their job.

"If you were on the judiciary, wouldn't you find out what competition the kid plays in and what the draw was in case you did suspend him?

"I'm also led to believe that a member of the judiciary, who was at the game, is supposed to have told the player after the incident not to worry and (the suspension) wouldn't be too bad.

"It just shows a lack of ability, it's incompetence."



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