The AFL’s Western Bulldogs have been plunged into crisis, with at least two teammates implicated in vice-captain Lachie Hunter’s alleged drink-driving incident that also led to him being charged with breaching COVID-19 restrictions.
Bailey Smith and Billy Gowers are reported to have become involved after Hunter allegedly crashed a Toyota SUV into four cars at Middle Park, in inner Melbourne, about 8.45pm on Thursday.
When officers arrived, the Toyota was found but the driver had left the scene. Melbourne’s SEN radio reported that police found Hunter’s training bag in the SUV.
Smith was understood to have driven Hunter to Gowers’ South Yarra home, kilometres from the scene.
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
On Friday, Victoria Police said a Middle Park man had been given a preliminary breath test and a subsequent evidentiary breath test, returning a reading of 0.123.
He will be charged on summons with drink driving and other traffic matters.
Police also found the driver had breached the coronavirus restrictions on self-distancing and staying at home. He was fined $1652 for that.
Bulldogs president Peter Gordon said the club would investigate what had happened.
“Football is very prominent in people’s lives … but this isn’t the message we want to send out there,” he told SEN radio on Friday.
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan confirmed the league’s integrity unit was also investigating.
“I’m not going to go into this specific case because I need to establish exactly what the facts are, but drink driving is completely unacceptable in any aspect of the community,” McLachlan told 3AW.
“As is breaching lockdown laws … these are things which are pretty cut and dried.
“I’m not going to go into discussions I’ve had but in the broader context people make mistakes and he’s made, it seems at this stage, a significant mistake here but young men do that.
“He’s vice-captain of the club, he’s a leader, but he’s clearly made a mistake here.”
Gordon said Hunter was “a good young man” and suggested he was not “dealing at all appropriately with the pressure that a lot of people are under and the circumstances in which we live”.
“But you can’t use that as an excuse. This is behaviour we don’t want to see and we’ll get an explanation for it, get the circumstances, but the message we want send to people [is] during these difficult times is you need to put extra effort into sticking to the community effort,” he said.