Wallabies star David Pocock and his wife Emma Pocock walked free from Gunnedah Magistrates Court today after charges against them following a Maules Creek protest in November last year were dismissed.
Pocock was in court on charges relating to his arrest during a coal mine protest in northwest NSW.
Pocock's charges included entering enclosed land without lawful excuse and hindering the working of mining equipment, after chaining himself to a digger for 10 hours in November as part of a blockade at the Maules Creek coal mine.
Magistrate Peter Miszalski said it would be a "disaster" for the high profile union player to have a conviction recorded against him after he pleaded guilty in court.
Mr Miszalski dismissed the charges against Mr Pocock saying he would be "very disappointed to see you back again".
A small group of supporters including farmers, green group representatives and traditional custodians were at the court to support Mr Pocock and his wife.
Pocock, 26, who received an official warning from the Australian Rugby Union after the protest, had no comment to make.
Emma Pocock said she was "relieved" at the result.
"It is a big relief to have had these charges dismissed," she said.
"But the reality is the mine is still going ahead and just this week a new mine was approved to go ahead in Gunnedah.
"It is a relief for Dave and I to not be facing these charges, but the reality is that we all breathe, and we all eat food, and fuel is expanding at a time when we should be winding it down."
Pocock was charged after he locked himself on to equipment with farmer Rick Laird to protest against Whitehaven's Maules Creek Mine.
Laird faced court on the same charge in Narrabri last week and was issued with a nine-month good behaviour bond with no conviction recorded.
The Pococks were represented by barrister Ken Averre, who argued the charges against the two should be dismissed because there was no violence involved, the pair were part of a legitimate protest, and they had excellent references.
"They are probably the last people one would expect to see before the court," Mr Averre told the magistrate.
Magistrate Miszalski agreed, saying one of the references made the Pococks sound "like his children".
"Mr Pocock has received a formal warning from the Australian Rugby Union, that is a significant step," Mr Averre said.
"He has an otherwise clean and unblemished record. It is something that weighs heavily on his mind."
Mr Averre said Emma Pocock had become involved because she had "real concern on her part as regards the safety of her husband".
The prosecution argued more than 300 people had already been arrested for charges relating to the Maules Creek mine, and a penalty was needed to act as a deterrent.
Mr Miszalski immediately dismissed the charge against Emma Pocock, saying she appeared to be "an amazing young woman destined to make an impact on the community at large".
He said he had not presided over the court in Gunnedah for many years.
"But I do know Gunnedah, and the activities that go on here will continue probably for many generations," he said.
"David Pocock and Emma have pleaded guilty with some amazing references to support the argument that has been put up on their behalf."