Bronco ‘had no idea he was committing an offence’
BRONCOS prop Joe Ofahengaue says he's "extremely embarrassed and extremely remorseful" after he was charged for sleeping in his car while drunk.
The football player this morning faced Ipswich Magistrates Court where he pleaded guilty to being in control of a vehicle while under the influence.
Defence lawyer Dave Garratt said Ofahengaue had been at a house party celebrating a friend's one-year anniversary of being free from leukaemia when he went to his car to retrieve a speaker and fell asleep.
"This is something that's quite close to home for Mr Ofahengaue as his partner is now in remission and has been for the last year from breast cancer so he's quite supportive of the high school friend of theirs," Mr Garratt said.
"He had a number of drinks, went to his car to retrieve a speaker, he simply sat in his car and fell asleep for a number of hours and then police arrived.
"He had no intention of driving. He simply started the car for the aircon, being a hot summer's night.
"He had no idea that he was committing an offence."
Mr Garratt said the 24-year-old football player would face further consequences.
"Your honour the extra-curial punishment he's going to receive not just from the club itself but also from the NRL is going to outweigh any punishment your honour is going to impose on him today," he said.
"...he's going to be sanctioned by the club and also by the NRL this could take the form of missing games, a financial punishment and also having to do extra community service activities."
The football player was fined $1000 and disqualified from driving for the minimum term of three months and no conviction was recorded.
"He comes before the court today extremely embarrassed and he's extremely remorseful," Mr Garratt said.
"Your honour will see in the letter under his own hand just how embarrassed he is.
"He's worked quite hard over the last period of time to gain the respect of some of the junior players and he feels that he's let them down and also himself down."
Mr Garratt said the disqualification would also be an imposition on Ofahengaue's pregnant partner who would have to drive him to and from training.
"The hardship he's going to place on his partner taking him to and from his commitments will be quite onerous on her at six months pregnant," he said.
"The adverse attention it will draw to himself and his career will be quite taxing on him and his family."