Jury clears player over punches thrown in league game
A GYMPIE jury has found Bribie Island rugby league player Mitch McMahon not guilty of assault occasioning bodily harm in relation to two punches thrown in a game against Noosa Pirates on April 27 last year.
The punches caused severe damage to the face of former NRL star halfback Noel Goldthorpe.
Mr McMahon, 23, who was at the time a front row forward for Bribie Sea Eagles playing in the Sunshine Coast "A" Rugby League competition, last year successfully had a 12-month suspension overturned after he went to the Supreme Court claiming he had been denied natural justice and fairness.
Mr Goldthorpe was 44 at the time and captain coach of the Noosa side.
He had played for St George Dragons, Wests Magpies, North Queensland Cowboys and Super League clubs Hunter Mariners and Adelaide Rams.
Mr McMahon's lawyer Peter Boyce said yesterday clear evidence that his client had been provoked convinced the jury to find him not guilty of the criminal charge.
"That was the defence that was put to the court," Mr Boyce said.
"Video footage showed Goldthorpe was the perpetrator."
Mr McMahon has quit football but has not ruled out returning to the game. He said last night he would focus on his new personal training business at Burpengary, Mitch's Superior Fitness.
"It's a massive relief," he said. "I'm more glad at the outcome than angry at what I've been through.
"Only time will tell if I play again. I've had a lot of family support and Peter Boyce has been terrific."
Mr McMahon said he had never played against Mr Goldthorpe before the game and did not know his background.
He said he reacted because he was not happy with the way he was being treated.
"I was elbowed, eye-gouged, had a knee to the throat and a facial rough-up. Obviously he was out to provoke me."
Mr McMahon celebrated the court victory by joining a family dinner to mark his brother's birthday.
Mr Boyce said Mr McMahon had been subjected to appalling treatment by the Sunshine Coast league judiciary after the incident.
"The law always allows for provocation as a defence," he said.
"As long as it is reasonably instantaneous, courts will allow provocation.
"We ran this issue with the league judiciary and they rejected that it was applicable."
Mr Boyce said he had complained bitterly about the lack of natural justice provided by the judiciary.
He said he had been forced to take the matter of his client's suspension to the Supreme Court.
before the league would listen.
"Anyone who has objectively looked at the footage of what Goldthorpe did first up will be saying it's no wonder he got it because any person would lose their cool and temper at such treatment," Mr Boyce said at the time.
"He's (McMahon) not expected to be superhuman. He's like everyone else."
Mr McMahon dropped the Supreme Court action against the Sunshine-Coast Gympie Rugby League after it reversed his suspension.
Mr Boyce said his client had spent the last year with criminal charges hanging over his head.
"He's so relieved it's all over and he can get on with his life," he said.