The evidence Josh McGuire presented and why he was found guilty nonetheless

Further details have been provided around the case of Josh McGuire.

The huge Super League signing was given a seven match ban and a £1000 after he was found guilty of using unacceptable language.

The Grade F charge saw him accused and then sentenced for using language that discriminates against the disabled however the evidence he used to prove his innocence has now been revealed with McGuire pointing out that he himself has a disability having lost vision in one of his eyes.

Meanwhile, he was adamant he had not said what he was accused of and noted that the sound of the crowd made it hard to definitively say he had said such a word.

The following is an extract from the RFL’s minutes on the matter:

“Player in attendance alongside Daryl Powell (Head Coach), Karl Fitzpatrick (CEO) & Kylie Leuluai (Head of Rugby Operations). Player pleads Not Guilty.

“JM explained it had been a fiery game and he had exchanged words with the opponent following a try as he had taken exception to an incident in a previous tackle. He said emotions were running high and that the opposition has a number of former Warrington players in their side.

“He added he worked with the club’s PDRL team and had a disability himself. The word he had been accused of saying was not in his vocabulary and he again reiterated he had not said what had been accused.

“DP addressed the Tribunal and explained there was a lot of noise happening around the time of the incident as a try had just been scored. There were insults being exchanged between the teams, however, he felt that the witnesses were unclear. He noted that the Referee has spent time in close proximity to the Leigh players before making his decision.

“He felt that JM would not have used the words he was accused of saying as he has a disability himself and works with both the club’s PDRL side and Disabled Soldiers in the local community. This was not in JM’s character and being found Guilty of this charge would cause harm to JM. He concluded that there was too much doubt to find JM guilty.

“KF felt that there was some doubt by the Referee when questioned. He noted that the Fourth Official was closer to JM and the time of the alleged incident and that he did not report anything. He informed the Tribunal that the Referee had talked to Peter Moran (Warrington Cone Technician) after the alleged incident and that if the incident had been so severe he would have sent JM off immediately.”

So, the question would then be why was this evidence overlooked?

Well that is to do with the burden of proof the RFL felt was required and the strong message they felt needed to be sent on the matter.

It has been revealed by the RFL that a Leigh Leopards player concurred with referee Marcus Griffiths that they heard McGuire use this unacceptable word.

Credit to the unnamed Leigh player, according to the RFL’s minutes he seemed to respect McGuire as a fellow professional.

The following is another extract from the RFL’s minutes on the matter:

“The Tribunal reminded itself of the burden of proof. The RFL must prove the case and whilst the Tribunal acknowledged that the standard of proof should be somewhere between the balance of probabilities and beyond reasonable doubt, the Tribunal concluded that bearing in mind the seriousness of the allegation, the Tribunal would only find the case proved if they reached a high standard approximate to beyond reasonable doubt. Nothing less would do.

“Accordingly, the Tribunal asked itself whether it could be sure (beyond reasonable doubt) that the offending words were said by Mr McGuire. Could it have been someone else or could the witnesses have misheard?

“In considering that straightforward factual issue the Tribunal reminded itself of two important principles.

“Firstly, whilst one person’s word can be sufficient to prove a case to the high standard required, namely approximate to beyond reasonable doubt, nevertheless in such circumstances caution needs to be applied.

“Secondly, the Tribunal reminded itself that it must consider not only the issue of whether Mr Griffiths was deliberately telling lies but also the potential for Mr Griffiths having made an honest mistake. The same applied to the Leigh player who agreed to provide evidence.

“The Tribunal concluded that the RFL had proved to a high standard, approximate to beyond reasonable doubt that Mr McGuire had said the offending words. Accordingly, the Tribunal had no hesitation in concluding that Mr McGuire was guilty of breaching rule 15.1 (f).

“In reaching that conclusion, the Tribunal had carefully considered the evidence of Mr Griffiths. The Tribunal found him to be an impressive, detailed, straightforward and credible witness. He was categoric as to what he had heard.

“The Tribunal was satisfied that there was no realistic possibility of fabrication by Mr Griffiths. Mr McGuire conceded that there was no previous history between them. The Tribunal concluded that any suggestion of fabrication was fanciful. The Tribunal therefore concentrated upon the possibility of mistake. This involved firstly, considering the possibility that different words were said and secondly that if they were said it was said by someone else.

“When considering the issue of mistake, once again the Tribunal found Mr Griffiths to be an impressive, fair and credible witness. He was clear and precise as to what he heard, whom he heard say it and he had no doubt it was Mr McGuire. He was stood only 2 meters away from Mr McGuire and unlike the Fourth Official (who was stood closer) he was looking at Mr McGuire.

“The Tribunal concluded that even if the allegation against Mr McGuire was made only by Mr Griffiths the case would be proved to the high standard required. Corroboration was not required having regard to the impressive nature of the evidence of Mr Griffiths.

“However, the Tribunal also heard from a Leigh player. He is not by definition an impartial witness being from the opposing team. Nevertheless, the Tribunal found him to be an impressive witness. He was categoric that he heard the words said by Mr McGuire.

“It was obvious that he did not attend the hearing with enthusiasm at getting a fellow professional into trouble. On the contrary, he did not want to give evidence against Mr McGuire and did not want to describe the words he heard. It was only when pressed that he reluctantly described hearing the offending words. He was cross examined and challenged robustly by Mr Fitzpatrick, and he stood firm. He maintained the words were said. It was obvious he took no pleasure in giving evidence against Mr McGuire.

“Another Leigh player was questioned by Mr Wild (RFL Compliance Manager) and was of little assistance to the Tribunal. He heard something said but he could not be sure what was said and by whom and we attach no weight to his evidence either in favour or against.

“The Tribunal considered carefully the evidence of Mr McGuire whilst reminding itself that he did not have any burden of proof. In doing so the Tribunal concluded that Mr McGuire was not telling the truth. His account lacked credibility and detail. He generalised and concentrated on making grand statements as to his character rather than focusing upon the events.

“Mr McGuire was adamant that he would not say words like that and he described all that he has done in the community. The Tribunal took that very much into account but it was insufficient to create a doubt by undermining the overwhelming evidence against him.

“The Tribunal carefully considered the above points and placed them in the context of all of the evidence heard during the hearing but ultimately the Tribunal found Mr Griffiths and the Leigh player individually to be impressive and credible witnesses. The cumulative effect was overwhelming.

“He was therefore guilty of the offence.”

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