2pm, Saturday, at Daffodil Downs: Mitchell Hooke claims his son-in-law Sam Burgess left him ‘shaking’ with fear…while the NRL champ says he was threatened with ‘ruin’: A full account from BOTH sides of the most gripping family courtroom stoush in years
- NRL star Sam Burgess wed Phoebe Hooke near Bowral, NSW, in December 2015
- The couple separated in late 2018, reunited, then permanently split in late 2019
- Burgess was involved in an alleged confrontation with Phoebe’s father Mitchell
- Police subsequently charged Burgess, 31, with intimidation and common assault
- Mr Hooke’s version of events differs markedly from that of his former son-in-law
- Burgess says his father-in-law threatened to ruin his career and to ‘destroy him’
Sam and Phoebe Burgess were freshly separated and emotions still raw when they made arrangements for him to visit her family home at 2pm on Saturday, October 19 last year.
The footballer’s visit to Daffodil Downs, just outside Bowral in the New South Wales Southern Highlands, was planned with military precision to ensure he did not cross paths with his wife.
Burgess, then 30, would be welcomed onto the property for two hours to see his young children Poppy and Billy, while Phoebe, also 30, would be away from the home.
Phoebe’s 64-year-old father Mitchell Hooke would act as a sort of supervisor and her younger sister Harriet would also be nearby.
Sam and Phoebe Burgess were freshly separated when he visited her family home on October 19 last year. After that visit Burgess was charged with intimidating and assaulting Phoebe’s father Mitchell Hooke. Phoebe is pictured with her mother Sarah at court on Monday
Burgess’s visit to Daffodil Downs, just outside Bowral in the New South Wales Southern Highlands, was planned with military precision to ensure he did not cross paths with his wife
Burgess was welcomed onto the Hooke property for two hours to see his young children while Phoebe would be away from the home. Phoebe’s father Mitchell Hooke (pictured) would act as a sort of supervisor and her younger sister Harriet would also be nearby
At 11.48am Burgess texted Phoebe from Bowral to say he wanted to come over earlier but she insisted on sticking to the 2pm plan.
Burgess spent the lead-up to the visit at the local Royal Hotel, arriving there at 12.06pm and leaving at 1.31pm. While at the pub he happily posed for selfies with fans.
Phoebe left Daffodil Downs before 2pm to ensure she would not run into Burgess. Harriet was in the stables and Hooke was sitting in his office.
What happened over the next couple of hours would tear the Burgess and Hooke families even further apart and land Sam in court charged with intimidating and assaulting his father-in-law.
Hooke says he feared Burgess would hit him in his own home. Burgess claims Hooke told him: ‘I’m going to destroy you if it’s the last thing I do. I’m going to destroy you and your career.’
According to Hooke, Burgess arrived at his property about 1.45pm and was greeted by him in the kitchen.
Burgess has not given his version of events yet but Hooke says the visit went sour about two hours later when he noted it was time for his son-in-law to go home.
The Hooke family known as Daffodil Downs at Glenquarry just outside Bowral in the NSW Southern sits in lush countryside
‘Sam said, “Nuh, no way”,’ Hooke told Moss Vale Court on Monday.
‘I said, “Sorry?” He said, “Nuh, this is f***ing inhumane”. He said, “This is f***ing inhumane and you know it”.’
Hooke said Burgess then stood up and walked across the room.
‘I said to him, “You can’t abuse me like that in my own home”,’ Hooke told the court. ‘In a place where we’ve provided you love and support and afforded you sanctuary.’
Hooke said Burgess responded by saying, ‘F*** you, you’re a piece of s***. You’re just like your daughter’.
‘I was taken aback because I had never seen that behaviour directed at me by Sam before.
‘He said, “F*** you, you’re a piece of s***”. I said, “Sam, you’ve got to go”.
Sam Burgess married Phoebe Hooke in 2015 and the couple separated permanently late last year. They are now embroiled in a bitter court dispute
Mitch Hooke, pictured with daughter Phoebe, claims Sam Burgess threatened him in his home. Burgess says it was Hooke who said he would destroy him
‘He came straight over, right in my face. He said, “F*** you. I’m going to get you. You’ve set all of this up.” He was wild. He was yelling.
‘I’m standing there, there’s a six foot five, 118 kilo bloke threatening to beat me, threatening to hit me. I’ve never felt fear like it.
‘I said, “You’re going to hit a 64-year-old man?” And he said, “I’m going to get you, I’m going to f***ing get you.” I said, “They’re going to put you away Sam”.’
‘I was resigned to being hit. I had absolutely no doubt. I had never been threatened like that in my life. And I had never had fear like that in my life.’
‘He was swearing at me, “You’re a piece of s***. Everybody who knows you, everybody I talk to says you’re a f***ing piece of s***”.’
Hooke said he tried to reason with Burgess and calm him down.
‘You’re fighting with the NRL,’ he said he told the former South Sydney captain. ‘You’re fighting with your club. You’re fighting with everybody.’
Hooke said when he spoke to his daughter about the incident she said, ‘Dad, you don’t know what he’s like, you don’t know what he’s capable of.’
Daffodil Downs was the scene of Sam Burgess and Phoebe Hooke’s wedding in 2015. It is also where Phoebe’s father Mitchell claims Burgess menaced him
Mitchell Hooke says he told Burgess: ‘You can’t abuse me like that in my own home (pictured). In a place where we’ve provided you love and support and afforded you sanctuary’
Burgess is yet to give evidence of the confrontation with Hooke but some of what he is likely to say was revealed by his barrister Phillip Boulten SC.
Boulten put it to Hooke that Burgess had not spoken to him as described and it was the older man who had threatened his son-in-law.
Hooke said he did not recall Burgess telling him, ‘You’re a bad person. You’re a bad person inside and you’re bad outside. You’ve got a bad heart.’
He did not accept saying to Burgess, ‘Don’t you dare come down to this property and disrespect me.’
He denied telling Burgess, ‘You run away from everything in your life’, ‘No one loves you’ and ‘Your family don’t even love you.’
And he further denied saying to Burgess about Daffodil Downs: ‘What have you done, Sam? All this could have been yours.’
Boulten put it to Hooke that Burgess had responded to that statement by saying, ‘Oh Mitch, this is all fake.’
The barrister suggested Hooke said to Burgess: ‘I’m going to ruin your f***ing career – I’ll make sure of it’, which Hooke denied.
‘He said to you, “Of course you will, you’re a piece of s***,’ Boulten said to Hooke.
Mithcell Hooke told Moss Vale Local Court Burgess said to him, ‘F*** you, you’re a piece of s***. You’re just like your daughter’. Sam and Phoebe Burgess are pictured
Phoebe’s sister Harriet said she spent most of the afternoon in the stables and shortly before 4pm heard Burgess shouting from the house.
She then allegedly saw Burgess standing over her father in a ‘menacing stance’ pointing his right finger at Hooke.
‘He said, “What kind of grandfather are you? Everyone that knows you hates you. I’m going to get you”,’ Harriet said.
‘I honestly didn’t know what was going to happen because his behaviour was so erratic, he was so angry.’
Hooke appeared to be in a state of shock after the incident.
‘Normally Dad’s very strong and talks a lot,’ Harriet said. ‘That’s just his personality.
‘But this time he could barely put a sentence together. His voice was wavering. He was still shaky.’
Phoebe was at Harris Farm Markets when she sent a text to Burgess at 4.05pm asking him to let her know when he had left the property.
Mitchell Hooke said he did not recall Burgess telling him, ‘You’re a bad person. You’re a bad person inside and you’re bad outside. You’ve got a bad heart.’ Mr Hooke is pictured at court
She had parked opposite Bong Bong racecourse waiting to see his BMW pull out of Daffodil Downs.
At 4.18pm Phoebe took a call from her father, shortly after Burgess had gone.
‘It wasn’t the call I was expecting to be honest,’ Phoebe told the court.
‘He was emotional and shaky. He wasn’t making a lot of sense.’
Phoebe spoke to her solicitor Carly Middleton for about four minutes from 4.20pm while she was on her way home. She texted Sam again at 4.22pm to say ‘I’m here’ while still on the phone to Middleton.
When Phoebe got home, according to her, Harriet told her, ‘Phoeb, he just went off’.
‘I asked Dad what happened,’ Phoebe said. ‘His mouth was dry. He was visibly shaky. I’d actually never seen my father quite like that before.
‘He just kept saying, “It’s OK. He just went at me, he just went at me”.
‘Dad said that Sam went off, that he started storming around the house. He then said Sam stood over him and he told him that he was going to get him.’
Phoebe said her father told her that when Burgess got into his car to leave he yelled through the window, ‘Oh, you’re so successful’.
‘Everyone who knows you hates you,’ Burgess allegedly said. ‘Everyone who’s met you hates you.’
Sam Burgess claims Mitchell Hooke told him: ‘I’m going to destroy you if it’s the last thing I do. I’m going to destroy you and your career.’ Burgess is pictured at court
Phoebe told the court: ‘At that point I decided I was going to call the police.’
The court heard Phoebe first tried to call Brisbane QC Sydney Williams, a family friend, before she rang Triple Zero.
That call, at 4.45pm was played to the court.
‘Hi there,’ Phoebe says. ‘I’m just reporting something that’s just happened at my home.
‘I don’t need to have anyone here, I just need to report something.
‘Look, I’m just a bit shaken up, I’m just going through, uh, my husband and I are going through a bit of a separation at the moment.’
Phoebe then goes on to explain the arrangements she had with Burgess in relation to their children.
‘He has threatened and abused my father, who is the children’s grandfather,’ she says.
‘It’s Sam Burgess, so it can’t be made public but I just need to report it cause he’s sill in the area and he’s really angry.’
Phoebe assures police no one is physically injured and says there is no AVO in place against Burgess.
‘We’re OK, yep, we’re all right,’ she says.
Police attended Daffodil Downs and Phoebe spoke to her lawyer Carly Middleton again at 4.53pm.
‘I wasn’t seeking legal advice, that wasn’t my motivation,’ she told the court. ‘But I was telling her what had happened at that visit.’
Hooke called Sydney Williams at 5.25pm and another lawyer about 5.30pm. He also spoke to former colleague Ben Mitchell, a public relations expert.
‘He’s a confidante,’ Hooke told the court. ‘I was trying to get a handle on what was likely to be the consequences of this story breaking.’
Phoebe, her father and sister drove to Bowral about 9.30pm to make formal statements. For Harriet, it was the first time she had ever been inside a police station.
An interim apprehended violence order was issued to protect Hooke from Burgess, who was subsequently charged with intimidation and common assault.
Burgess has pleaded not guilty to the charges at a hearing which will resume on January 22.
Sam Burgess’s court case will return to Moss Vale Local Court (pictured) in January next year