NRL legend unloads over ‘murder trial’

 

Details have emerged from Tuesday evening's "bizarre" NRL judiciary hearing in which Gold Coast Titans captain Kevin Proctor was found guilty of biting.

Proctor was given a four-week suspension after the almost three-hour hearing found him guilty of biting Cronulla Sharks playmaker Shaun Johnson during Saturday's round 14 match in Sydney.

The ugly incident saw Proctor sent from the field after cameras showed him with his mouth open on Johnson's forearm.

The New Zealander will be allowed to return in round 19 when the Titans take on the Manly Sea Eagles.

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In a fiery tirade on his Six Tackles with Gus podcast, rugby league great Phil Gould repeatedly claimed he had lost faith in the NRL judiciary system following the hearing.

"I've got no faith in the process whatsoever. They are run like murder trials; they are not like NRL judiciaries," Gould said.

"I find the whole thing very hollow.

"I have no faith in what happened on the field, I think it was totally overplayed, I think it was a total over-reaction and from there it spirals out of control into a judiciary hearing and everything we went through last night."

Gould also argued the judiciary's panel should have taken Johnson's uncertainty following the incident more seriously.

"I have no faith in the total process and I believe they've come up with an unsatisfactory verdict," he said.

"In legal terms it's an unsafe verdict based on the evidence and what was said last night, I can't see how our game keeps doing this to itself and I've got no faith in the system at all.

"If I'm sitting on the judiciary panel I could only find a player guilty of a bite if the other player came before me and said 'He bit me. He bit me.' That's the only way I could find him guilty of a bite, if he's believable and I've got evidence to back that up. But if the player who was 'bitten' comes before me and says on reflection he doesn't think it's a bite, on reflection he overplayed it at the time. And as I've said, not his reaction, his initial reaction, his initial reaction during what was the alleged bite process was not of a man who had been bitten, simple as that. And that's what I see."

Kevin Proctor biting the arm of Shaun Johnson.
Kevin Proctor biting the arm of Shaun Johnson.

Speaking on NRL 360, Fox Sports reporter James Hooper revealed Johnson rattled off several "F-bombs" during his fiery testimony.

"He was being asked, 'Why are you now changing your tune? Why at the time did you get up and say he bit me? Why all of a sudden did you decide to go in a different direction?'" Hooper said on Wednesday evening.
"He paused, got frustrated, and then they just came out.

"I've done a lot of judiciary cases … but that one last night is in the Grand Final of the most bizarre, strange, quirky judiciary cases I've been privy of seeing."

Hooper also detailed how NRL judiciary chairman Geoffrey Bellew "blew up" at defence lawyer Tim Fuller during the hearing.

"The defence lawyer for Kevin Proctor did not know if he was Arthur or Martha last night, and Bellew absolute gave it to him in spades," Hooper said.

"At one point, Tim Fuller asked (match referee) Henry Perenara, 'Henry, in your opinion, do you think that Kevin Proctor bit Shaun Johnson?' to which Bellew immediately jumped in and said, 'Hang on, woah woah woah, you're not here to ask him his opinion. He's here to detail what's in his report. Get back to the point.'

"So then he asked him the same question again a different way, and Bellew blew up."

Kevin Proctor is sent from the field.
Kevin Proctor is sent from the field.

The Daily Telegraph's Paul Kent replied: "The defence that poor old Kevin Proctor had, he had no chance.

"He could have argued that the actual charge was the wrong charge and got off on a technicality … There's hardly any dangerous contact in there.

"He could have argued any number of things, but to bring in Shaun Johnson as a defence witness … was a catastrophic error."

Fox Sports presenter Lara Pitt described the entire biting scandal as a "circus".

"This was a circus even before it went into the judiciary; the whole process has been a circus.

"From the moment it happened to the moment Shaun Johnson acted on the field as though he wished he hadn't complained, and then it's been a debacle."

Originally published as NRL legend unloads over 'murder trial'



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