WESTERN Bulldogs star Lachie Hunter has been suspended for four AFL matches, fined $5000 and has relinquished his vice-captaincy position at the club after he was involved in an alleged drink-driving incident last Thursday.
Hunter has also copped $15,000 worth of suspended fines, while he will undertake mandatory alcohol education and counselling and community service as a result of his indiscretions.
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As revealed by AFL.com.au, Hunter was alleged to have driven into four parked cars before he was taken by young midfielder Bailey Smith to the South Yarra apartment of fellow teammate Billy Gowers later in the evening and returned a blood-alcohol reading of 0.123.
Gowers has also copped a $5000 suspended fine, because, like Hunter, he did not inform the club of the incident at his earliest chance.
The Dogs were satisfied Smith never left the car at Gowers' house and therefore not be sanctioned by the club – but he was fined by Victoria Police for breaching social distancing measures.
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In consultation with the AFL, Hunter's penalties were decided by Dogs chief executive Ameet Bains, president Peter Gordon, new football director Luke Darcy, head of football Chris Grant and senior coach Luke Beveridge.
Bains said Hunter's decision to consume alcohol "adversely" affected his driving.
The Dogs are anticipating Hunter to face criminal charges.
In a video statement recorded on the club's website on Tuesday, Hunter said: "I would like to express my deepest apologies and regret for my actions last Thursday night.
"I'm here to take full responsibility for what I did and the damages that I caused. It's never responsible to get behind the wheel after you've had a drink … drink-driving is clearly not acceptable and a real scare for what could have been with some drink-driving victims and some stories there.
"I let down a lot of people. My fiancée and my family first, the leadership group and the club, my teammates, Billy and Bailey for dragging them into a situation that they should have never been in and the wider community who are going through a really hard time with the COVID-19. Clearly, I should have been at home.
"The people who own the vehicles … not only the damage that it caused, but the stress that it would have put on them that night.
This is the damage to Western Bulldogs vice-captain Lachie Hunter’s car after he is alleged to have hit four parked cars while intoxicated last night.— Mitch Cleary (@cleary_mitch) April 16, 2020
FULL STORY: https://t.co/x0nXuZFlQ4 pic.twitter.com/p6v2iTJsB5
"After the incident, clearly I had a bit of time to reflect. I decided it was best that I stepped down from the vice-captain role this year and the leadership group. It clearly just wasn't fair on my teammates and would have put them in uncomfortable positions going forward.
"I've obviously lost the respect of a lot of people over this time and there's not a lot I can do about that right now. I can't control what I did, but I can control what I do from here. I'll accept the sanctions given to me by the club today.
"It's obviously going to hurt a lot, watching my teammates run out without me there and knowing that I caused that myself. I'll have that date circled in my calendar, when I'm allowed to get back out there with my teammates.
"Hopefully over time, I'll rebuild some of that trust."
Police arrived at the scene of the crash in Wright Street in Middle Park around 8.45pm AEST on Thursday night to find Hunter's damaged SUV with the star midfielder nowhere to be seen.
He was later located at a South Yarra address – now confirmed as Gowers' property – and given a preliminary breath test. A subsequent evidentiary breath test recorded a reading more than two times the legal blood alcohol limit.
Hunter's car, along with two of the four cars he is alleged to have hit, was towed from the scene.
One of the cars hit by Hunter belonged to the parents of Smith's girlfriend which became known at the time of exchanging contact details. At the time of the crash, Smith was inside his girlfriend's property.
This is the image of Lachie Hunter’s front seat that greeted police when they arrived to the scene of Thursday night’s incident. Included a bottle of Bird in Hand wine.— Mitch Cleary (@cleary_mitch) April 18, 2020
At the time Hunter was 3-4km away in South Yarra.
Details: https://t.co/x0nXuZFlQ4 pic.twitter.com/PBylEKJHih
Alcohol was found on the front seat of Hunter's car.
The 25-year-old's licence was suspended for 12 months, while he was also hit with a $1652 penalty notice for breaching strict social distancing directions in place to stop the spread of COVID-19.