Footballer Karmichael Hunt was let off with a $2500 fine and no conviction after pleading guilty to drugs charges in a Queensland court today.
Hunt, who’s played rugby league and AFL, this year moved to rugby union with the Queensland Reds.
He was not so lucky with the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) which, following the court verdict, suspended Hunt for six weeks and fined him $30,000. He will also undergo a drug treatment and rehabilitation program and will be placed on a monitored and targeted drug testing program.
Hunt was charged with four counts of cocaine supply by the Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission on February 19, as part of an ongoing investigation into a cocaine trafficking syndicate in South East Queensland.
The case has involved several members of the Gold Coast Titans and forced the NRL to take over the club after it slid into voluntary administration just days after the players were charged.
In Southport Magistrates Court today, Hunt agreed to plead guilty to the lesser charges of possession.
Police alleged that Hunt bought a total of 12.5 grams of cocaine from another former Sydney Roosters player John Touma on three occasions last September and again on October 3. Police had text messages between the two men.
The ABC reports that the player’s lawyer, Alastair McDougall, argued his client had “demonstrated significant remorse” by pleading guilty and had a “massive wake-up call”.
He said Hunt made “very poor choices that he’ll be paying for for the rest of his life” and suffered “enormous economic loss as a result of his actions”.
Hunt’s former coach Wayne Bennett provided a reference for the player.
Three others charged with supply alongside Hunt had their cases adjourned until May 8. They are Gold Coast Titans players Beau Falloon and Jamie Dowling and Falloon’s partner, Elise Abood. The all face supply
More Titans players – Greg Bird, Dave Taylor and Kalifa Faifai Loa – are due to appear before court on Monday, alongside former teammates Joe Vickery and Ashley Harrison. Another former Titan, currently playing in England, has a warrant out for his arrest.
“It’s been a difficult couple of weeks for myself and my family,” Hunt said outside the court.
He will return to Super Rugby in round eight against the Rebels in Melbourne. Between now and March 22 he will train at the Reds Ballymore facility when the main Reds squad are not there, returning to the squad on March 23.
ARU CEO Bill Pulver said the governing body was “extremely disappointed” in Hunt.
“However we acknowledge that he is sincerely remorseful and has cooperated with the investigation and our integrity enquiries throughout this process,” he said.
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