Hunter will serve his four-match penalty when the AFL season resumes. He is however free to continue training with the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs confirmed two of the damaged vehicles belonged to the family of teammate Bailey Smith’s girlfriend, whose house Bailey was staying at the time. “The location of the accident outside the house where Bailey and his girlfriend were was, we are satisfied, entirely coincidental,” the Bulldogs said.
The club said Hunter was in a “distressed state” after the accident and he requested Smith drive him to the apartment of another teammate, Billy Gowers. The Dogs said Smith did not exit his vehicle at Gowers’ apartment, and he then immediately returned to his girlfriend’s house.
A remorseful Hunter said “it’s never responsible to get behind the wheel after you’ve had a drink.”
“I’d like to express my deepest apologies and regret for my actions last Thursday night,” he said.
“I’m here to take full responsibility for what I did and the damages that I caused.”
Gowers has also been punished, hit with a suspended $5000 fine “for conduct after Lachie arrived at his apartment which in a number of ways fell short of club expectations and in our view constituted breaches of his contractual obligations to abide by the AFL player code of conduct”.
In announcing Hunter’s penalties, Bulldogs chief executive Ameet Bains said the shortness of the season was a relevant consideration.
On the question of whether Hunter consumed alcohol after the incident, possibly impacting his positive breath test at more than twice the legal limit, Bains was reluctant to delve deeper but was clear and concluded that “the accident was a result of him being impaired” by alcohol.
“The club is extremely disappointed by a number of elements of Lachie’s conduct both in his choice to drink alcohol, choice to drink and drive, choice to ignore social distancing laws and a series of other choices he made in the aftermath of the crash,” Bains said in a statement.
“We are extremely disappointed that, when the accident occurred, he did not choose to avail himself of the support and advice services the club provides to our players for just such situations and we believe a number of his subsequent poor choices flowed directly from that error.
“While there are clearly pressures that many people face given the current circumstances, including Lachie, that is no excuse for his behaviour. Lachie’s behaviour put himself and others at risk and is not acceptable. I want to again make it clear that there is no excuse for the choices he made.
“We are very thankful that nobody was physically harmed in the incident. Lachie has failed to live up to his responsibilities as a member of the community and from what we expect from a leader of our football club.”
- Scott Spits and Michael Gleeson