The AFL’s governing body in the Northern Territory is considering an appeal against a tribunal’s decision to find Aisake O’hAilpin not guilty of a serious misconduct charge that would have killed off his semi-professional career.
The Nightcliff ruckman, who was once signed to play with the Carlton Football Club, was sent from the field and referred to the tribunal after allegedly headbutting St Mary’s Raphael Clarke in the first quarter of their round one NTFL match up on Saturday.
If O’hAilpin had been found guilty and penalised with a suspension, the 32-year-old would have fallen foul of the AFL’s deregistration policy, which stipulates that any player suspended for a total of 16 weeks in their career is banned from the game indefinitely.
He has accrued 15 weeks of suspensions during his career.
But after a hearing that lasted almost 90 minutes last night, relieved Nightcliff officials and O’hAilpin emerged from the tribunal after he secured a not guilty verdict.
Amid heavy criticism of the decision on a football Facebook page, AFLNT chief executive Michael Solomon today said the league was considering its options.
“This afternoon we will spend time sifting through the manuscripts of the tribunal with a view of considering or the league appeals the decision.” Solomon said.
“A grounds for appeal, if we find one, will be if we can find additional information that can potentially see that decision at least reviewed.”
If AFLNT does decide to appeal the move, it is believed to be only the second time the league has taken such action.
Lack of game vision impacts ruling
When leaving last night’s hearing, O’hAilpin and his advocate, Steve Glennon, alluded to the lack of footage showing the alleged assault.
“There was no footage anyway. Me and Raph [Clarke] know what happened anyway,” O’hAilpin said.
“I’m pretty relieved to be honest. It was the result we were looking for.
“I’m glad the tribunal listened to what I had to say. And we got the result we wanted.”
Mr Glennon said the vision of the incident was scant.
“We did try and view what was available but unfortunately it didn’t assist the tribunal,” he said.
NTFL seeking better footage in future
Mr Solomon said the league would consider reviewing its video capability to ensure a lack of footage would not be an issue in future tribunal meetings.
“The first challenge I’ve given to our new football operations manager who is coming in — RJ [Russell Jefferey] is that he needs to source a better solution for video,” Solomon said.
“It’s something the league has to look at.
“It’s certainly an expensive thing to cover games from a video perspective.”
O’hAilpin said he did not think he had to redefine the way he played.
“Not really. It’s not something I think about if I’m going to get reported or not.
“Onwards and upwards and hopefully I won’t be back here again.”