Last week a Sydney Magistrate dismissed an assault charge against former rugby league star Ian Roberts who had been accused of assaulting his ex-boyfriend at a Kings Cross hostel last year.
In handing down his decision in the case, Downing Centre Local Court Magistrate, John McIntosh, said he was not satisfied that the police prosecution had proved its case that the former rugby star turned actor had assaulted Ben Prideaux.
“I mean no disrespect when I say this: he tended [Ben Prideaux] to become agitated in the witness box,” Mr McIntosh said, adding that the court transcript contained several requests for Mr Prideaux to “remain calm”.
Mr McIntosh found that Mr Prideaux was injured either when Mr Roberts dragged him out of the hostel room, in accordance with the opinion of police, or when Mr Roberts tried to calm Mr Prideaux by holding his flailing arms.
Throughout the six-month long court ordeal, Mr Roberts, had strenuously denied a charge of common assault against Mr Prideaux, his former lover.
On the final day of the trial, Tim Walker, 21, a friend and former lover of Mr Roberts, who was found asleep on Mr Roberts bed by Mr Prideaux, prompting Mr Prideaux to flee the apartment, appeared in court as a witness. According to Mr Walker’s testimony, Mr Prideaux became “hysterical”, and shouted at Mr Roberts, on June 29, last year.
Two days later, on July 1, Mr Walker said he had driven Mr Roberts to the hostel where Mr Prideaux was staying so Mr Roberts could get back a digital camera and laptop computer that the court has heard Mr Prideaux may have mistakenly took that contained important work-related material Mr Roberts needed urgently.
According to Mr Walker, initially Mr Prideaux refused to come out of his room, and when he did, the situation became “volatile” leading to Mr Roberts placing his hands on Mr Prideaux’s arms in an effort to talk to him and “calm” him down.
Mr Walker denied that Mr Prideaux was dragged violently and was almost horizontal trying to hang on to the doorjamb of his room.
Following the court’s decision to clear him of the charges, Mr Robert’s said that Mr Prideaux was “still my friend” and said he believed that “the situation had been overwhelming” for Mr Prideaux.
Admitting the case had cost him $100,000 and lost him work because he had just relocated to LA at the time the charges were brought against him, Mr Roberts told reporters he had a new partner and was getting on with his life, and would be returning to LA to pursue his acting career.
Mr Prideaux told reporters he was “happy it was over”.