Sam Burgess: why has the former England rugby captain been convicted of intimidation - and who is Mitchell Brooke?

Sam Burgess has been convicted of intimidating ex-wife Phoebe Brooke’s father

Friday, 5th February 2021, 11:05 am
Sam Burgess had been an assistant coach with the Sydney Rabbitohs (Getty Images)

Former England rugby league captain has been found guilty of intimidation in Australia.

A Sydney court found that Burgess had intimidated his ex-wife’s father Mitchell Hooke relating to an incident at Mr Hooke’s home in 2019.

Burgess formerly a star player for the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Bradford Bulls has been given a conviction and placed on a two year good behaviour bond.

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What happened?

The Australian court heard competing versions of events on the incident which took place in 2019 while Mr Burgess was visiting his children after he had been separated from wife Phoebe Burgess.

After Mr Hooke told Mr Burgess to leave a row is said to have escalated. Mr Hooke then claimed that Mr Burgess threatened him, stating: "I'm going to get you. You've set all of this up." Mr Hooke said that the threat filled him with “terror”.

Mr Burgess contested this version of events, claiming that Mr Hooke had said: "I'm going to destroy you and your career."

The judge, Magistrate Robert Rabbidge, ruled in favour of Mr Hooke, describing him as an "impressive, believable and consistent" witness.

Mitchell Brooke is a high profile lobbyist and was previously head of the Minerals Council of Australia

What is intimidation?

According to Australian law, the following can be defined as intimidation:

“(a) conduct (including cyberbullying) amounting to harassment or molestation of the person, or

“(b) an approach made to the person by any means (including by telephone, telephone text messaging, e-mailing and other technologically assisted means) that causes the person to fear for his or her safety, or

“(c) any conduct that causes a reasonable apprehension of injury to a person or to a person with whom he or she has a domestic relationship, or of violence or damage to any person or property.”

Allegations following retirement

Sam Burgess was forced to retire with a shoulder injury in 2019.

Mr Burgess had been working as an assistant coach but stepped down after it came to light that police were investigating other allegations against him.

The Australian newspaper claim that the Sydney Rabbitohs covered up allegations of domestic abuse and drug use.

Mr Burgess has strongly denied the allegations.