April 28, 2020 / 7:07 AM / a month ago

NRL campers Mitchell, Addo-Carr charged with firearms offences

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australian rugby league internationals Latrell Mitchell and Josh Addo-Carr have been charged with firearms offences after being fined for breaching social distancing rules on a camping trip at Mitchell’s property.

Melbourne Storm winger Addo-Carr was seen using a gun in a video posted on social media over the weekend, prompting an investigation by police in Australia’s eastern state of New South Wales.

The 22-year-old Mitchell on Tuesday attended a police station in Taree, near his farm on the mid-north coast of NSW, and was charged with the offence of giving a firearm to a person without a license or a permit.

Addo-Carr, 24, was charged for using an unauthorised firearm.

“Both men will appear at Taree Local Court on Tuesday 4 August 2020,” New South Wales police said in a statement.

The National Rugby League (NRL) players, along with Newcastle Knights’ Tyronne Roberts-Davis, were fined A$1,000 ($645) by police on Monday for breaching social distancing rules while camping and hunting with a large group of men.

The NRL was unable to provide immediate comment about the gun charges.

Earlier on Tuesday, the NRL fined South Sydney Rabbitohs centre Mitchell and Addo-Carr A$20,000 ($12,900), with an extra A$30,000 suspended, for “showing a blatant disregard for public health orders”.

Roberts-Davis was fined A$4,000, with A$6,000 suspended.

Aboriginal players Mitchell and Addo-Carr apologised on Monday, saying the trip was organised for members of Addo-Carr’s family who had been having “a tough time” and needed to reconnect with their “culture”.

Penrith Panthers halfback Nathan Cleary was also fined A$4,000 on Tuesday, with A$6,000 suspended, for breaching social distancing orders after he was seen in a photograph posted on social media with a group of women.

All four players were handed suspended one-match bans for bringing “significant reputational damage to the NRL”, the league said in a statement.

The players’ lockdown breaches have embarrassed the NRL which has been at pains to assure authorities that it can safely restart the competition from May 28 despite concerns about the coronavirus.

The season was suspended in March after two rounds due to travel restrictions aimed at curbing the virus.

“The players have to understand that they are putting the game and the community at risk by their actions,” Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V’landys said on Tuesday.

“It’s certainly hard to accept such behaviour when the game is doing everything it can to persuade the community that its players are responsible and behave appropriately.”

Australia, which has recorded more than 6,700 COVID-19 cases and 88 deaths, has ordered people to stay home with a few exceptions including trips to work or school, buying essential supplies and exercise.

Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Ed Osmond

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