Another NRL player has been arrested by police and will face destroy or damage property charges at Wollongong Local Court.
George Burgess, who will play for the St George Illawarra Dragons in 2022 was charged over an alleged roadside altercation.
Part of the incident is said to have been captured on a mobile phone.
The NRL integrity unit has been made aware of the incident but are yet to take any action.
George Burgess Destroy or Damage Property Charges
Police laid destroy or damage property charges against George Burgess after receiving a complaint from a 32-year-old man.
It is alleged that Burgess became involved in a verbal altercation with another motorist. He is said to have been filmed by a truck driver using a mobile phone.
The police facts claim that 29-year-old Burgess left his vehicle and took hold of the truck driver's phone.
He is then alleged to have grabbed the man's phone before throwing it on the road.
The incident was reported to Wollongong police station. Officers conducted an investigation before the 29-year-old was charged with destroy or damage property. .
The prop is due to appear in Wollongong Local Court on 19 October 2021.
Integrity Unit Also Investigating George Burgess
The NRL integrity unit are conducting their own investigation into the George Burgess incident. However, this will not be concluded until after the court case has been finalised.
Burgess left South Sydney after the 2019 season to join Wigan but played just eight games in the UK Super League before departing the club on medical grounds with two seasons left to run on his contract.
He underwent hip surgery before securing his move back to Australia with the Dragons, who signed the 29-year-old to a two-year deal.
It is unclear if the incident escalated afterwards but police are investigating, with the NRL integrity unit also looking into the incident.
Club Release Statement
The St George Illawarra Dragons released a statement confirming that the NRL Integrity Unit had been notified of the alleged incident. The club also said it would not comment further as a police investigation was underway.
"St George Illawarra are aware of an alleged road incident involving 2022 recruit George Burgess.The NRL integrity unit have been informed. As the police are currently investigating the matter, the Dragons will be making no further comment at this stage."
When announcing his signing to the club, Dragons general manager Ben Haran said Burgess would have a positive impact on the squad.
"George will make a significant contribution to us here at the Dragons on and off the field.His experience and career achievements will only have a positive influence on the development of the younger players currently within our squad."
Section 195 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) sets out that if you intentionally or recklessly destroy or damage the property of another person, you can be guilty of this offence. The offence is also known as 'malicious damage to property'.
You can fight a destroy or damage property charge in two ways. Firstly, the prosecution must prove each of the following beyond reasonable doubt:
- You intentionally or recklessly damaged property; and
- That property belonged to another person; or
- You owned it jointly with another person and they did not consent to you destroying or damaging property
If any of these elements are not made out, then you can be found 'not guilty'. If you are charged with destroy or damage property, there is a strong possibility that you will receive a criminal conviction. This can have wide-ranging effects on your career and ability to travel overseas.
That is why it is important to obtain advice from one of Australia's best criminal lawyers who has successfully defended hundreds of these charges. Call Astor Legal on (02) 7804 2823. Or, you can email email@example.com.
Destroy or damage property charges often occur in the context of relationships. As such, a common issue that arises is where property is jointly owned.
If you jointly owned the property with another person then you can be found guilty of malicious damage. However, if you are the sole owner of property, then you cannot be found guilty of destroying or damaging it.
Much will depend on whether you can prove you are the sole owner. Domestic violence lawyers suggest that receipts and bank statements should be kept as these can be used in Court to prove that you own the property outright.
In order to establish damage, the prosecution must prove that the physical integrity of the property was altered in some way. This includes if the alteration is temporary (Grajewski v Director of Public Prosecutions (NSW)  HCA 8).
However, if there is no alteration to the physical integrity of the property, then there is no offence. For example, spitting on a metal seat would generally not be considered damage (Hammond v R  NSWCCA 93).
The following are a number of defences to destroy or damage property charges which can be raised:
- Claim of right: You genuinely believed you were entitled to the property
- Causation: The prosecution cannot prove that you caused the property to be destroyed or damaged.
- Identification: the prosecution cannot prove that you were responsible for the destruction or damage
- Intent:The prosecution cannot prove that you had the intention, or that you were reckless in destroying or damaging the property
- Duress: You were forced to destroy or damage the property
- Necessity: Your damage to, or destruction of,
If heard in the District Court, the maximum penalty for Destroy or damage property is a term of imprisonment of 5 years. If the offence was committed while in the company of another person, the maximum penalty becomes 6 years imprisonment.
If heard in the Local Court and:
- the value of the property damaged is less than $5000, the maximum penalty is 12 months imprisonment and/or a fine of $5,500. Where the value is less than $2000, the maximum fine is up to $2,200;
- the value of the property damaged is more than $5000, the maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.