The Mackay Magistrates Court sentenced former NRL star Ben Barba to 150 hours of community service after Barba pleaded guilty to public nuisance for a Townsville casino incident in January. Barba grabbed Ainslie Currie, his partner of 16 years, by the throat and pinned her against the wall at Ville Casino in Townsville. Eventually, Ben Barba threw his partner to the ground in the Australia Day incident.
After Ben Barba’s footage of the assault of his partner appeared on CCTV, the NRL banned the former star for life. He previously played for Cronuella-Southerland, Brisbane, and Canterbury-Bankstown. In the 2017 and 2018 seasons, Ben Barba played for St Helens in the UK’s Super League. He also briefly played for a French rugby union team in his time overseas.
In early 2019, it appeared as if Ben Barba received a lifeline when he signed with The North Queensland Cowboys. Due to the assault case, the Cowboys released Barba on February 1 before he could play a single game. The RFL followed the NRL’s action and also banned Barba.
Though community service might appear to be a slap on the wrist, the fall for the 29-year old Rugby Union player has been stark. FoxSports.au later reported he was working as a truck driver, while QT.com.au reported he works as a metalwork in Mackay, Queensland.
Ben Barba pleaded guilty to two charges of public nuisance and one charge of obstructing police, which stemmed from an unrelated case earlier this month. When confronted outside the court, the former Dally M Medallist said, “It’s a mistake I’ve made and I’ve paid enough.”
“I’ve lost my whole career in this whole situation. I’m not saying my actions were right but what’s done is done, the only thing I can do is move forward and get on with my life.”
The Australia Day assault at the Ville Casino made a sensation. The incident lasted a full 30 minutes and included several outrageous acts. Besides choking his partner and throwing her to the ground, he used a shoe to hit her in the head.
The CTTV video shows him throwing rocks near her (none hit) while she tried to walk into swampland near the casino. Ainslie Currie, who is the mother of Barba’s four daughters, did not press charges.
Police body cameras showed an obviously drunk Ben Barba swearing at officers, calling them “rapists” and “racists”. During the video, Barba also accused the police of assaulting him and pushing him down stairs at the casino.
At the sentencing, Acting Magistrate John Smith acknowledged the former pro athlete lost millions due to the incident. Magistrate Smith said, “You have suffered one enormous penalty as a result of this. You have the loss of a sport, and lost millions in prospective employment.”
Barba’s lawyer said that Ben Barba was remorseful for his actions, then added the former NRL player’s actions had been “abhorrent”.
In March, Barba told local media, “As bad as the situation is I’ve never felt so free that I can get on with my life without the pressure of footy.”
That was before a further incident which happened at Barba’s father’s home. During that incident, he told police, “Just because you’re a white copper, you pushed me over.”
The police officer replied, “It’s everything to do with your behaviour and nothing to do with your race’ as he’s handcuffed and led away.”