The court heard that Burgess was driving to the pharmacy to purchase pain relief medication for a chronic hip injury when a man got out of his cement truck and started filming him. The 32-year-old truck driver alleged the Rugby League player was using his phone while driving. Defence lawyer Bryan Wrench said his client had recently arrived in Wollongong and was using his phone for directions. He was sentenced to a 12-month good behaviour bond.
After destroying a man’s phone during a road rage incident in Wollongong, NRL player George Burgess has been placed on a good behaviour bond. Burgess was on his way to the pharmacy to purchase pain relievers when a truck driver began photographing him. Burgess’ reaction was unjustified, according to the magistrate, and players should expect such behaviour from the public. Burgess’ lawyer stated that his client was under “immense pain and stress” at the time of the incident. In Wollongong Local Court, the 29-year-old, who signed with St George Illawarra in August, pleaded guilty to one count of malicious damage to property.
“This offending occurred in unusual circumstances where Mr Burgess was driving at a slow pace to the pharmacy to buy pain relief medication for a terrible surgery,” Mr Wrench said. “The victim seemed to take malicious delight in filming Mr Burgess.” Two men in dark suits walking away from a court complex.
George Burgess was on his way to buy pain relief medication when the dispute occurred.(ABC Illawarra: Tim Fernandez). ‘It was an overreaction’. The incident occurred weeks after Burgess signed a two-year deal with the Dragons.
Mr Wrench told the court his client was under an enormous amount of pressure after moving to Australia from England, where he was “medically retired” with his previous team, the Wigan Warriors. “We are apologetic to the victim for what happened,” said Mr Wrench. “It was an overreaction.”It was a time when he was going through immense pain and stress.” Burgess is the twin of Souths forward Tom Burgess and the brother of former Rabbitohs captain Sam Burgess.
Magistrate Christopher McRobert told the court it was not unusual for Rugby League players to be filmed and the defendant’s reaction was not justified. “In this case Mr Burgess needs to understand he is a high-profile person who should expect to be recorded all the time,” he said. “The reality is if the victim had actually been recording him and Mr Burgess was not committing an offence, he had nothing to fear from the recording. “The sensible thing would be to say, ‘I am not doing anything wrong — let him record me.’” Burgess’s early guilty plea, lack of prior convictions and the fact he paid the victim compensation for his phone were all considered in sentencing.
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