Richmond Tigers boss speaks out after major Marlion Pickett move

Brendon Gale says Marlion Pickett is fully entitled to the presumption of innocence as the Tigers opted not to stand down the premiership star.

Richmond Tigers boss Brendon Gale and Marlion Pickett.
Richmond Tigers boss Brendon Gale says the club will stand by Marlion Pickett, saying he is entitled to the presumption of innocence. Pictures: Getty Images

Marlion Pickett's arrest after his alleged involvement in a string of burglaries in Perth late last year has come as a 'shock', Richmond Tigers CEO Brendon Gale has admitted, as the club vows to stand by the premiership star. The 31-year-old has been released on bail after fronting court in Perth, with Gale vowing the club would operate on the presumption of innocence.

Pickett had hoped to play against St Kilda this weekend, but Gale said the club had instead opted not to play him in order to be 'mindful of his welfare' after he was held on remand over the weekend following Richmond's win over Fremantle. The Tigers have the bye the week after, with the club hoping to let things 'settle down' before bringing him back into the side.

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Richmond have opted not to stand Pickett down, flagging a likely return against Brisbane in round 16. Pickett memorably made his AFL debut in the 2019 grand final, also playing in the Tigers' 2020 triumph.

“It came as a bit of a shock,” Gale said. “These are allegations.

"We’re going to operate on the presumption he’s innocent and justice will run its course. We think the best thing for him is to be back here, working hard.

“It’s been a big week, he spent one night in remand, he’s been to Perth and back, the emotional burden has been significant. He’s a very resilient character but not withstanding we have the bye next week and we felt that one or two weeks, it’s a watch, but we think that’s an appropriate amount of time for things to settle down.

“He’ll prepare with the team, he’ll train, he’ll be turning up and engaging, which we think is really important for him to do that at this stage and we fully expect him to play against Brisbane in two weeks time.”

After joining the Tigers via the VFL in 2019 following an earlier two-year stint in prison, Gale hailed Pickett as an 'inspiration' for turning his life around with the club. He said remaining with the Tigers, as opposed to being stood down, was the best way the Tigers could support him.

“Nothing has come easy, but through the force of his will, against all the odds, through the love of his family and the care of football clubs, he’s turned his life around,” Gale said. “He’s had to overcome a lot of challenges, some many of us could never imagine. He’s been an inspiration to me, to many.”

Marlion Pickett's lawyer labels evidence 'circumstantial'

West Australian police remanded Pickett in custody on Sunday - a day after he played in the Tigers' 15-point win over Fremantle at Optus Stadium - alleging he was involved in commercial burglaries between December and January. The 31-year-old was granted bail in Perth Magistrates Court on Monday after appearing on 12 charges including four counts of aggravated burglary, three counts of stealing and three counts of criminal damage.

Appearing in the dock wearing a black sweatshirt, Pickett spoke only to confirm his name and was not required to enter pleas. A police prosecutor told the court the alleged offending by Pickett and others involved a series of commercial burglaries resulting in the theft of more than $380,000 in Australian and foreign currencies from within safes.

One of the charges relates to the alleged stealing of $325,000 from a currency exchange in Perth's northern suburbs. It's further alleged Pickett purchased tools and clothing that were used in the burglaries and that mobile phone triangulation data links him to one of the scenes.

Marlion Pickett is pictured with his manager, Anthony Van Der Wielen.
Marlion Pickett fronted Perth Magistrates Court earlier in the week, accompanied by manager Anthony Van Der Wielen. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Pickett's lawyer David Manera said there was nothing to suggest his client was a flight risk and the prosecution case was circumstantial. He said it rested largely on allegations deposits of $6000 and $9000 were made into Pickett's bank account by his co-offenders, and that a camper-van rented in his name was driven interstate by the other men.

Mr Manera said Pickett had flown to Perth for the clash with the Dockers "in the knowledge that police wanted to speak to him" and had remained behind when his team flew home so he could meet with detectives. The father-of-four was described as a paid mentor for Indigenous youth through the Korin Gamadji Institute and a leader among Richmond's First Nations players.

Magistrate Erin O'Donnell said the allegations were serious but she did not believe Pickett presented a significant flight risk. She granted bail on the condition Pickett resides at his address in the Melbourne suburb of Reservoir, reports weekly to a local police station, does not interact with his alleged co-offenders and provides a $50,000 personal surety.

With AAP

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