CLANCY OVERELL | Editor | CONTACT
22-year-old Tom Starling will run on for the Canberra Raiders this weekend, after a turbulent off-season that saw him brutalised by NSW Police officers during an incident on the Central Coast at Christmas – before charged with five counts of assaulting an officer in the execution of duty, affray and resisting arrest.
Starling’s charges were eventually dropped in January this year, allowing him to rejoin the Raiders squad and begin training towards this weekend’s career milestone of a starting jersey.
However, while the debutant hooker no longer has to worry about facing trumped up charges from overzealous police officers, this does not mean that he – or his team mates – are safe from the heavy-handed NSW coppers doing it again.
Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has advised his players to be wary of any police officers on the Queanbeyan side of the ACT border for the rest of the season.
This comes after it was revealed that the NSW Police Force are beginning to grow restless after not being presented with an opportunity to assault any Raiders players since they put a hiding on Starling in December last year.
The police battering of Starling came not even 3 months after his team mate Curtis Scott was found not guilty of the same charges, after he too was brutalised by police officers in Sydney.
The 22-year-old was arrested on Australia Day when police found him lying unconscious in Centennial Park, where he had pulled up to take a nap after a big day on the squirt – before being assaulted, tasered, unlawfully handcuffed and pepper sprayed, while unconscious.
Curtis Scott was hit with five charges, including assaulting a female police officer, which was a news story that was leaked to the predatory Murdoch press before the Canberra Raiders centre had even sobered up the next morning.
This particular example of unbridled police brutality, which took place in the centre of Sydney, to an elite sportsman, has really given the general public quite good insight into they keep accidentally killing innocent Indigenous people who never get a headline.
With the Raiders taking on the North Queensland Cowboys for round 7 in Townsville this weekend, both players and coaching staff are safe from being bashed for no reason for the time being.
Round 8 will also see the Raiders able to feel safe at work when they play the Rabbitohs at GIO stadium in Canberra.
Coach Ricky Stuart has been running players through Krav Maga self-defence classes before they head to Wagga to play the Knights for Round 9 in May.