Following the devastating tackle that led to Alex MacKinnon's severe neck injury, the NRL judiciary suspended Jordan McLean of Melbourne Storm for upcoming seven matches.
McLean was in a sombre state during the entire trial. His lawyer, Nick Ghabar, filed a not guilty plea for the charges against the front-rower.
Ghabar stated that McKinnon unfortunately fell prey to a "terrible and tragic accident." He deeply sympathised for McKinnon and his family, but tried to clarify that Alex "unfortunately and unwittingly" contributed to the accident by "tucking his head into his chest" moments before he hit the ground.
He added that if McKinnon had kept his posture during the mid-tackle then this tragic incident could have been averted.
Ghabar further said that the lift was no way horizontal or vertical and the "significant downward force" have contribution from other two players, Jesse and Kenny Bromwich.
However, NRL prosecutor Peter Kite stated that although the two brothers were present in the tackle, "substantial responsibility for the lift was borne by player McLean."
The lift was certainly careless and McLean should be the one to blame. Mark Evans, chief executive of Melbourne Storm, clarified the club was analysing the position, and an appeal may follow.
"The first point I want to make along with everyone in rugby league I think it is really important that all our best wishes go to the young fella who is still very seriously injured ... That can't be obscured by anything that happens in the judiciary process ... "We came here tonight feeling that the tackle was a terrible accident. It was really no different to hundreds of tackles you see like that in the NRL every season," McLean added.
The trial was led by a three-member panel made up of Mal Cochrane, Chris McKenna and Bob Linder. It took less than 10 minutes for the panel to declare McLean guilty.
Alex McKinnon, who fortunately was revived from induced coma, started communicating with his family members on Tuesday. His condition remains stable, but critical.