Tigers boss has not kissed and made up with Cleary

“I’ve said before I’m passionate about the Wests Tigers and I’m focused on ensuring we achieve the success the fans have been patiently waiting for,” Pascoe told the Herald.

Tigers boss Justin PascoeCredit:Peter Rae

“Anyone who treats the club disrespectfully through their behaviour, I have a right to be upset about.”

Much has been made about Reynolds, Mbye and Packer taking up around $2 million in the salary cap, and how offloading at least one of them would give the Tigers some money to play with.

There have been repeated reports the Tigers only have $300,000 to spend next year but Pascoe said “that’s completely wrong”. While he would not confirm the amount, its understood the Tigers have just north of $1m available for 2021.

Mbye, the Queensland Origin representative who was linked to an early move to the Gold Coast, acknowledged all big earners at struggling clubs were forever in the firing line.

“You’ve got to keep winning games because that’s what keeps your club out of the headlines, the negative headlines anyway,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

Moses Mbye is one of Ivan Cleary's big signings who knows pressure is on the big earners when clubs struggle.

Moses Mbye is one of Ivan Cleary’s big signings who knows pressure is on the big earners when clubs struggle.Credit:Getty Images

“When you’re a player on the higher end of the pay bracket, the criticism is warranted and I think that’s fair.”

Pascoe could sympathise with the supporters’ unrest and said: “I understand our passionate fans are frustrated we haven’t played finals football for eight years. I get it.

“Yes I’m the CEO, I’m responsible for all things that happen at the club, and when things don’t work out as planned, I’ll cop it on the chin.

Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire has done well with the players he has.

Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire has done well with the players he has.Credit:NRL Photos

“What I do know is it is a lot easier to attract players to this club than it was five years ago, and even three years ago.

“We’ve now created the environment so younger players want to come here. We were losing over $4m annually a few years ago and we have turned the business around to be a sustainable business. We are embarking on the development of $80m for a Centre of Excellence, which will be the most-envied Centre of Excellence along the east coast of Australia.

“We also have some of the best coaching staff you can get including some of the most highly respected high performance staff in rugby league.”

Adam Doueihi, Joey and Luciano Leilua have been handy pick-ups this year, while there is a lot of excitement about Shawn Blore, Tommy Talau, Jake Simpkins and incoming prop Stefano Utoikamanu.

Josh Addo-Carr has been linked to a return to the Tigers, but there is little interest in his $800,000 price tag.

The Tigers need to win to be any chance of ending their eight-year finals hiatus. One bonus is they welcome the return of on-loan Harry Grant while Penrith lose their own dummy-half Api Koroisau to a calf strain.

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Barossa winemaker Peter Seppelt forcibly kissed girl but acquitted of child sex offences

Prominent Barossa winemaker Peter John Seppelt has been found not guilty of child sex offences by a South Australian court.

Mr Seppelt, 56, was accused of maintaining a sexual relationship and engaging in unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl from April 1994 to April 1996.

At the time of the alleged offending, the girl was aged 15 and 16, and Mr Seppelt pleaded not guilty to multiple charges in January 2019.

Upon his committal to stand trial in the District Court, a statutory suppression on his identity lapsed, allowing Mr Seppelt to be publicly named.

District Court Judge Simon Stretton said the court had heard an honest and truthful account about Mr Seppelt forcibly kissing the girl when she was under the age of 17.

The incident happened at a New Year’s Eve party at Mr Seppelt’s Grand Cru Estate.

“That conduct does not amount to sexual intercourse.”

In his written decision, Judge Stretton said the incident was instead akin to indecent assault.

He also wrote the girl’s parents had given evidence that established Mr Seppelt spent a considerable amount of time with her.

“[He] sought out opportunities to be physically close to her, and made inappropriately personal comments to her, and had inappropriately sexual conversations in her presence,” he wrote.

‘Reasonable doubt’, judge says

The court previously heard evidence describing alleged incidents during two car rides and Mr Seppelt’s practice of placing his hands on the girl’s buttocks at events.

But Judge Stretton said they could have happened after she was 17 years old.

“The complainant was a completely honest witness who gave evidence well, but the passage of 24 years since the events in question would affect anyone’s ability to date with certainty moments such as these,” he wrote.

Judge Stretton today said the passage of time cast reasonable doubt about when subsequent incidents happened.

Mr Seppelt walked free from the dock and did not address the media outside court.

His family established Seppeltsfield winery in the Barossa in 1851 which remained in the family until 1984.

Mr Seppelt, a fifth generation winemaker, is not connected to Seppeltsfield winery and runs luxury accommodation at Springton.

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