Three strikes: Addo-Carr’s COVID warning shots
Josh Addo-Carr was warned twice in 11 days for violating COVID-19 restrictions before he was caught for a third time on a weekend camping trip that has thrown the NRL into crisis.
The Melbourne Storm winger, South Sydney superstar Latrell Mitchell and Newcastle Knights player Tyronne Roberts-Davis have each been fined $1000 by police for breaching social distancing protocols in photos Addo-Carr released on social media, which were then published in The Daily Telegraph.
But the monetary penalties and public embarrassment of breaching the lockdown laws may not be the only problems for Addo-Carr and Mitchell, who are also being investigated for possible criminal charges relating to firearms.
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The pair, along with Roberts-Davis, were caught on the hunting and camping trip on the mid-north coast at Mitchell's property at Caffreys Flat, near Taree in photographs and videos with nine other friends and relatives.
They also travelled nearly 200km from Caffreys Flat to a remote beach between Hat Head and South West Rocks to go trail bike riding.
Police spoke to the three men on Monday before issuing them with the $1000 infringements.
But the breach was not the first time police had spoken to Addo-Carr for failing to adhere to the lockdown laws.
With the country being urged to stay at home, Addo-Carr was given formal warnings by police on April 3 and April 14 - both at Glebe after being found sitting in a car without good reason. He was also warned on April 16 for driving an unregistered car at Forest Lodge.
Detectives are also investigating Addo-Carr for allegedly firing a shotgun owned by Mitchell despite not holding a firearms licence - a charge which carries a maximum of five years in jail.
And Mitchell, who is the registered owner of several weapons, is being investigated under section 39 of the NSW Firearms Act (1996) for allegedly not taking precautions that the shotgun did not come into the possession of a person not authorised to possess it.
That charge has a maximum penalty of fines of thousands of dollars or two years in jail.
Police will also investigate whether any of the men committed traffic offences for riding unregistered trail bikes on the beach without licenses.
While police spent the day investigating the players, a furious NRL boss Peter V'landys worked alongside the integrity unit to determine what penalties head office should hand out.
The Daily Telegraph understands all three players are facing suspensions of up to a month, or possibly two weeks combined with heavy fines.
"The players will be afforded due process and natural justice," V'landys said. "However this is a serious matter."
He refused to comment when asked if the players would be suspended.
Earlier the NRL issued a statement to say their behaviour was 'unacceptable.'
The incident has created doubts about the ability of NRL players to adhere to the strict protocols the NRL is putting in place for a training resumption next week and a return to playing on May 28.
It makes V'landy's job far more difficult in upcoming negotiations with health officials and government ministers about hopes for a May 28 return.
At least the Addo-Carr and Mitchell apologised via their social media accounts afternoon as the seriousness of their actions came to light.
After originally denying any wrongdoing in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Addo-Carr said: "I'm really sorry from the bottom of my heart.
"Nothing was intentional or deliberate. A couple of family members of mine were going through a really tough time at the moment.
"I got into touch with Latrell to try to go out to his private property to try to connect to our culture again. Try and put a smile on their faces and have a bit of fun as well."
He made no mention of his previous issues with police re COVID-19 protocols.
Mitchell also used his Instagram account to say sorry.
"It was a little bit of a slip up," he said. "Foxy reached out, had his cousins going through a bit of stuff in Sydney and wanted to get away up to the bush and making sure they're getting culturally connected again.
"That's what the concept of the weekend was. He wasn't here to break any rules or hurt anyone.
"We're not being selfish. I couldn't turn the brothers in a time of need. Just wanted to let youse know on behalf of me and Foxy and all my mob we do apologise."
Originally published as Three strikes: Addo-Carr's COVID warning shots