After 26 months, Tom Starling and other men involved in a Central Coast brawl have had their charges dropped after it was ruled that the police involved 'weren't acting in the execution of their duties'.
Starling was charged with hindering police in the execution of duty in December, 2020 following a brawl at Shady Hills Hotel in Avoca Beach that saw Tom charged as well as his brothers Jackson and Josh, and close friend Jesse.
After an all-in brawl at the venue, Downing Central Local Court heard that Starling was punched in the head repeatedly by police officers, with magistrate Daniel Covington dismissing the charges after an 11-day hearing.
🎤 Tom Starling speaks outside court after the verdict alongside lawyer Samar Singh-Panwar, who said they’re considering all options 👇 pic.twitter.com/zUXL11UWaF
— Alexi Demetriadi (@ADemetriadi) February 10, 2023
Starling is eager for the case to no longer linger over him after such a long period.
“It's been two and half years that it's been lingering over my head but being able to come in here and be around the boys and play footy made it 100 times easier,” Starling told Fox Sports prior to the hearing.
“I'm looking forward to finally getting that done and really focusing on my footy again.
“I've been back for two separate weeks in the season last year and then had to go back for another couple of sessions in the off-season.
“No jury, just a judge. Longest one my lawyer has seen so looking forward to not having to put a suit on and going to court again.
“Not many people look forward to a court date but it's something I'm looking forward to for sure.”
The magistrate found Tom was in fact the victim if anything in the case, not the perpetrator.
“Clearly what occurred was nothing other than Tom being assaulted himself,” Mr Covington told the court.
“I'm not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt they (the officers who punched Tom) were acting in execution of their duty."
— NRL (@NRL) April 14, 2022
Samar Singh-Panwar, Starling's lawyer, said a civil case against the NSW Police wasn't out of the question yet.
“That (a lawsuit) is something that's being considered and there's certainly potential for a civil action case against NSW Police,” Mr Singh-Panwar said outside court following the result.
“The magistrate found the police weren't acting in the execution of their duties, but more a street fight, which is something we've maintained from the outset.”
Starling took to Instagram after the outcome to thank those that stuck by him.
"Thank you to everyone that supported me and had my back these past two years. Me and my family appreciate you all," the 24-year-old wrote on social media.