Four men accused of assaulting popular The Rock footballer Andrew Saddler on a night out in Wagga have been cleared of all charges.
A hearing decision was handed down in Wagga Local Court on Monday after three days were set aside to hear the case against the four accused.
Police alleged Mr Saddler was assaulted by four men from the same family on December 4 last year.
Mr Saddler, a premiership-winning player with the Magpies last September, suffered serious head injuries in the alleged incident and spent around three quarters of the season on the bench.
All charges were dismissed against Benjamin Joseph Byrne, who pleaded not guilty in July last year to assault and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
David Bradley Byrne and Jonathon Blaine Byrne were cleared after pleading not guilty to common assault and behaving in an offensive manner.
A charge of common assault was also dismissed in relation to Paddy Daniel Byrne, who also pleaded not guilty.
Saddler, who has plans to relocate to Queensland next season, politely declined to comment on the result when contacted by The Daily Advertiser on Tuesday.
Police charged the four accused in May last year after a lengthy investigation.
They alleged Mr Saddler was assaulted inside a Baylis Street hotel by 41-year-old Benjamin Joseph Byrne between 12.27am and 12.29am.
Police alleged that about an hour later, 24-year-old Mr Saddler and a 20-year-old mate were confronted in the street and assaulted by Benjamin Byrne and three family members.
Magistrate Michael Crompton told the court on Monday he was not satisfied the prosecution could negate the the four men’s claim of self-defence.
“Having reviewed all the evidence carefully and watched the CCTV many times, I have been left with some doubt,” he said.
“Due to the high standard of the burden of proof, in my view, a conviction would be unsafe.”