Sacked Wests Tigers forward Matthew Lodge, who faced 25years in a US prison after being arrested in New York last October, has been back in Australia since Christmas Eve.
Upon Lodge's return to Sydney, barrister Julieanne Levick presented the former NRL player to Waverley police station, where he was arrested and spent a night in the Surry Hills holding cells for a charge relating to an allegation of domestic violence. After initially being denied police bail he was home for Christmas lunch.
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The 20-year-old spent time in the infamous Rikers Island prison when he was arrested during a holiday in New York after allegedly telling two women during a night out: "This is the night you die," before allegedly assaulting a man who came to their aid and then allegedly trashing an apartment.
Lodge was separated from his group of friends and due to a combination of alcohol and prescription pharmaceuticals has said he was unable to remember anything about allegedly stalkingthe two women down West End Avenue.
He faced a possible long prison sentence after his charges of criminal mischief, reckless endangerment, criminal trespass, assault and menacing were upgraded by the New York District Attorney to felony counts of burglary in the first degree and burglary in the second degree.
However, Lodge was allowed by American authorities to return to Australia on Christmas Eve after his Sydney barrister, Levick, worked in conjunction with the USAttorney's office.
She was successful in having his serious indictable charges downgraded to misdemeanours after the former junior Kangaroo participated in community service by working at a soup kitchen, attending a rehabilitation program and undertaking ongoing counselling. Upon his arrest in the US it was revealed he was temporarily stood down by the Tigers in August, but not sacked, over an alleged domestic violence incident.
He was fined by the club for an incident in Kings Cross earlier in the year and in July he was banned from attending any Penrith junior league matches — he was assistant coach of a team — for the rest of 2015.
He was admitted into full-time residential rehabilitation soon after his return to Australia and The Sun-Herald understands Lodge has responded so well to the therapy he is permitted to train of a morning in a gymnasium before the start of sessions.
Apart from the course, Lodge has continued with his US-imposed community service by working in a western Sydney kitchen that feeds the homeless. The alleged domestic violence matter is next before the court in February.
It is understood Lodge, who is believed to have been in negotiations with Penrith before his New York trip, still hopes to be able to pursue his NRL career.
Lodge was also grateful to the Rugby League Player's Association who ensured he received help after concern for his welfare following the arrest in America.