NSW police re-opened an investigation into Penrith star Nathan Cleary after it came to light he lied about a possible social distancing breach that resulted in a severe sanction by the NRL.
Cleary was initially cleared by police over an incident on Anzac Day that involved having friends at his house despite coronavirus restrictions.
Five women received $1000 police fines for flouting government protocols. However, after video emerged of Cleary in TikTok videos with the same group, the NRL slapped him with a two-game ban and $30,000 fine for being “untruthful”.
The Daily Telegraph reported on Tuesday night the 22-year-old is alleged to have been sprung in a second lie during an NRL integrity unit investigation into the saga.
He was originally hit with a $10,000 fine, 60 per cent suspended, as well as a suspended one-match ban after initial investigations.
It has since been alleged that the Panthers halfback was not at home for the entire day in question, prompting NSW deputy police commissioner Gary Worboys to look into the matter again.
“There will be some further inquiries made into that over the coming days and if it’s appropriate to take action against that person, that will occur,” Worboys said.
“It’ll be a local Police Area Command investigation.
That investigation resulted in a further fine of $1000 being lumped onto Cleary.
“A man has been issued a $1000 Penalty Infringement Notice (PIN) by police conducting inquiries into the circumstances surrounding a group not complying with Ministerial Directions in Sydney’s west,” a police statement read.
“Officers from Nepean Police Area Command initiated an investigation after photos and videos were shared on social media concerning an incident at a home in Penrith on Saturday 25 April 2020.
“Following inquiries, police issued PINs to five women – aged in their late teens to early 20s – for failing to comply with a Ministerial Direction on Thursday 30 April 2020.
“A 22-year-old man, who was filmed in the videos, was spoken to by police at the time.
“Following information received and further inquiries, the man was issued a $1000 PIN for non-essential travel via email about 2pm today (Wednesday 13 May 2020).”
“They handled it previously and we’ll look forward to the outcome of that in the coming days.”
Panthers teammate and Cleary’s housemate, Tyrone May, was fined $15,000 by the NRL for his role during the league’s investigation.
Penrith had hoped to put the saga behind them after copping the NRL punishments for both players on Wednesday.
Coach Ivan Cleary, the father of Nathan, said it was out of character for his son, who has had an unblemished record off the field since his first-grade debut in 2016.
“He is very remorseful and he’s paying the price,” Cleary told the club’s website.
“I actually think it could be the making of him, I really do. He’s still a young man.
“He knows he’s done the wrong thing and he’s hurt people.
“In my experience, sometimes the best leadership lessons are done through practising the hard way.
“There’s not many great leaders who don’t make mistakes, who can be vulnerable, do the wrong thing and make bad choices.”
Cleary issued an apology in a video featured on the Panthers’ official website on Tuesday.
“I’m obviously embarrassed with myself and I’m not happy with what I’ve done,” Cleary said.
“I just to want to apologise for my actions. My actions were irresponsible, selfish and pretty stupid, to be honest.
“I brought a lot of negative attention to not only myself, but my family, the club, the game as well, and that’s what has hurt me the most.
“To move on from here I need to realise I can’t change what has already happened, even though I wish I could. The reality is I can’t.
“The one thing I can control are my actions moving forward.’‘
The suspensions comes as a serious blow for Penrith, given Cleary had been in a rich vein of form as he helped Penrith to start the two-round season unbeaten.
The Panthers will now likely be forced to turn to rookie half Matt Burton to partner Jarome Luai when the competition resumes on May 28.