- Sep 27, 2004
Sorry if the formatting is hosed, warning, very long and I cut out the pictures and some crap infographics with the text messages. Warning for domestic violence and drug use.
NRL powerhouse club South Sydney Rabbitohs covered up alleged drug use, domestic violence and harassment to protect a star ¬player, and is accused of using fake identities to hide positive tests for illegal substances.
Officials from the Russell Crowe-owned club were aware of the destructive lifestyle of super¬star Sam Burgess, and promoted him to captain despite knowing of his behaviour.
Burgess, 31, is now employed in a coaching role at the club.
A four-month investigation by The Australian has uncovered pharmaceutical records, sworn statements to NSW Police, statutory declarations, witness -accounts, call logs, emails, text messages, bank records, Whats¬App exchanges and Uber receipts detailing Burgess’s alleged episodes of drug use, domestic violence and abusive behaviour.
READ MORE:Editorial: Rabbitohs failed in duty of care
Souths chief medical officer Andrew McDonald treated Burgess during a drug-fuelled episode on November 6, 2018, and injected him with liquid tranquilliser — but wrote the prescription in another person’s name, according to pharmacy records obtained by The Australian.
In the wake of this incident, Burgess underwent a secret drug test with a different doctor on ¬November 7, 2018, in the underground car park of South Sydney Juniors club, where he allegedly tested positive for MDMA and ketamine.
The drug tests were allegedly recorded under a fake name, ¬according to sworn statements provided to NSW Police.
Dr McDonald was present — along with a nurse recommended by the club and another Rabbitohs player — when Burgess allegedly assaulted a heavily pregnant Phoebe Burgess in November 2018. “I don’t have any comment at this stage,” Dr McDonald said in response to questions submitted by The Australian.
Officials at the highest levels of the club were also notified about Burgess’s use of drugs in the months prior to his promotion to club captain in April 2019.
Lawyer Mark O’Brien, acting for Burgess, last night strongly ¬denied all allegations. “The allegations are false and constitute an indefensible defamation against my client,” Mr O’Brien said.
“It is apparent sources of the false allegations are those currently in dispute with my client over various issues.”
Souths’ handling of its superstar athlete goes to the heart of elite football’s cultural problem: individual clubs suppressing ¬scandals while failing to address the welfare of athletes and their families.
NRL rules require clubs to ¬report to the NRL Integrity Unit any potential incident where a registered player has engaged in conduct that could bring the game into disrepute.
Burgess’s father-in-law, high-profile businessman Mitch Hooke, has for the first time revealed he witnessed Burgess assaulting his heavily pregnant daughter Phoebe during the November 2018 bender by crushing his 116kg body onto her as she screamed. Mr Hooke also said he heard Burgess harangue his wife with verbal abuse, including “you weak c...”.
“I was worried she was going to lose the baby,” Mr Hooke said when contacted by The Australian about the incident.
“You could tell she was in pain. She was inconsolable, she was crying. There was this wail, you can’t describe it. As a father, I can’t think of anything that was more traumatic in my life. If anyone who is a father or mother and hears their child let out that wail, it was deep and came out from right down inside, it was utter fear and traumatised like nothing I’ve ever heard. I will never, ever forget.”
Sam Burgess is currently facing a charge of intimidation (DV related) against Mr Hooke, relating to an October 2019 argument at Mr Hooke’s home.
Police also took an apprehended violence order against Burgess on Mr Hooke’s behalf. The AVO is still in place and Burgess has pleaded not guilty and denied any wrongdoing.
In a statement to NSW Police in the AVO proceedings, obtained by The Australian, Phoebe Burgess, 31, wrote: “There have been a lot of issues in my relationship with Sam, including physical violence as well as emotional and psychological abuse. Sam during our relationship has made me feel intimidated and scared. I am ¬fearful that his behaviour will continue and he will not stop intimidating me and making threats against me.”
Approached for comment by The Australian on Thursday, Phoebe Burgess would only say: “This is an extremely painful, difficult time and I am trying to care for my two toddlers while we move on from an extremely traumatic chapter of our lives.”
The NRL is in the midst of a “culture review” under new chairman Peter V’landys after a string of incidents involving individual players being accused of domestic violence and mistreatment of women.
Since Burgess’s retirement in October 2019 he has been employed as a development coach at Souths and mentored by veteran coach Wayne Bennett, positioning Burgess as a leader within the club and league.
Bennett insisted Burgess join him in the NRL’s Project Apollo meetings during the COVID-19 crisis and Burgess on Thursday trained with the Rabbitohs ahead of their elimination final against Newcastle on Sunday.
The Australian can reveal Burgess claimed in private messages in September 2018 that then-NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg told him he would not be suspended over a sexting scandal while it was still being investigated by the NRL and Souths.
That scandal had blown up when a woman complained to the club she had been subjected to sexual harassment by Burgess and other players during a video call in which Burgess allegedly showed her his penis.
She went to the media after the club failed to act on her complaint and the story was published in The Daily Telegraph in September 2018. The newspaper did not name her.
In text messages obtained by The Australian, Burgess refers to the woman’s name possibly being leaked to the media.
“Todd Greenberg confirmed to me that I’m not suspended. It’s a joke, it’s all going to turn in our favour. Her name is getting leaked, going to get leaked her tits were shown. Also leaked they’re roosters fans. The tide will turn soon. Honest be patient. People are catching on,” Burgess said in a text message to his wife on September 17, 2018, that was forwarded to a friend and obtained by The Australian.
Text messages annexed to Phoebe Burgess’ statement to police and obtained by The Australian
Sources close to Greenberg said, despite immense pressure from the Rabbitohs, he had only told Burgess he could continue playing until the investigation was complete, which is consistent with his public comments at the time.
It can also be revealed Phoebe Burgess told Rabbitohs co-owner Russell Crowe about Burgess’s ¬alleged use of “heavy drugs” as well as “booze” and “girls on social media” in a text message on ¬November 26, 2018 at 5.43am. The messages were annexed to Phoebe Burgess’s statement to police as part of her father’s AVO case.
The concerned Hollywood legend then contacted Burgess, with Burgess complaining in a text message the same day at 7.35am: “Phoebe why did you message RC saying everything … I am at work today fixing the club and now they think I’m a drug addict. What are you trying to solve here. Such lies.”
Phoebe Burgess also sent Crowe a message on September 24, 2018, about another incident when Burgess went missing from his family for 48 hours after the September 22 preliminary final against the Roosters, asking if Crowe knew where Burgess was. Crowe said he had not heard from him since the game.
A second senior Souths official was also told of Burgess’s alleged abuse of prescription medications including Xanax and Kalma (both anti-anxiety benzodiazepines) and Imovane (a sleep-inducer) in text messages from Phoebe Burgess on February 20, 2019.At 12.03pm on February 21 the official texted her: “Totally get it. Let’s get him off them.”
The Australian has also interviewed a Melbourne woman who declined to be named but has signed a statutory declaration alleging the club mishandled her complaint about Burgess in September 2018.
The woman claims South Sydney CEO Blake Solly called her in September 2018 after she rang the club to make a complaint about Burgess, with whom she “unknowingly” had an affair in late 2017 during the Rugby League World Cup, when he was married with a baby at home.
The woman, who said Burgess told her he was separated from his wife, claims she became angry when she saw him on television denying a sexting scandal.
The woman claims she told Mr Solly she wanted a written apology from Burgess.
“I wanted to have no verbal contact with Sam but wanted to make it clear that he needed apologise for his actions,” she said. “Mr Solly said he would speak with Sam urgently and get back to me with a plan of attack.”
The woman claims she then started receiving numerous calls and a text message from Burgess to her old number — and when she didn’t answer it Burgess ¬started calling her new private number. She claims — and later told police — Burgess used phrases ¬including: “Shut your f..king mouth you pig. You are f..king dead. You are a moll. Shut your mouth slag.”
The text message from Burgess on September 19, 2018, at 4.31pm, states: “It’s Sam. Can you call when you get a chance. Thanks.”
She wrote to Mr Solly in a message on September 19, 2018, at 4.56pm: “Hi Blake, I don’t want to speak to Sam nor do I want him calling me.
“I have decided for all parties involved and to clear my conscience of any wrongdoing to just come out and tell the truth to the media on how the players treat women. Thank you again for your time today.”
Mr Solly texted back: “I’m very sorry. I am just on a conference call. I will call you ASAP. Thanks.”
Mr Solly told The Australian on Thursday: “I did not provide (the woman’s) number to Sam Burgess. I was not aware that she spoke or referred the matter to the police. In any event, the matter was referred to the NRL Integrity Unit. The complaint was treated seriously and expeditiously.”
The woman never heard from the NRL Integrity Unit.
In a statement on Thursday night the NRL said: “The club informed the Integrity Unit of information it had received from a woman regarding a personal relationship she had with former NRL player Sam Burgess. The information the Integrity Unit received did not include any allegations of threatening behaviour or other conduct which would breach NRL rules.”
The woman said she never received an apology. She said she left a voicemail on Mr Solly’s mobile phone on October 4, 2018, stating she had just left the police station having made a formal complaint because of Burgess’s “ongoing threats”.
The family man
Burgess was 21 when he arrived in Australia in 2010 to play for Russell Crowe’s Rabbitohs.
The loveable English rogue shone on the field, soon becoming a gladiator of the game. In 2014 he wrote himself into NRL folklore after he fractured his eye socket and cheekbone in the opening tackle of the grand final, and still shouldered the Rabbitohs to victory. Burgess was hailed as a god by fans and he had grown extremely close to Hollywood legend Crowe, who treated him “like a son”.
He built up a polished social media image as a devoted husband and family man, marrying Phoebe Hooke at a lavish ceremony at her parents’ property in Bowral, in the NSW Southern Highlands in 2015. Four years later, the marriage was effectively over.
According to Phoebe Burgess’s statement to police, Sam Burgess went from adoring husband to sharp-tongued critic, regularly calling her a “weak c …” to her face, telling her to “get the f … out” of his house while she breastfed their newborn son Billy and referring to her as “a c …” to his teammates in the South Sydney locker room.
In her statement to police Phoebe Burgess writes of another incident shortly after Billy’s birth in December 2018: “I was bathing the kids when Sam heard me sniffling and crying quietly. He walked into the bathroom and told me to ‘get the f..k up, you piece of poo poo’, ‘why are you f..king crying in front of my children, you weak c.... Get the f..k out of my house. You’re ¬pathetic.’ I couldn’t move as I had my newborn son lying on my arm in the bath.”
Crowe and another senior Souths official were made aware of Burgess’s multi-day benders and ¬alleged drug use in the months before he was promoted to captain in April 2019.
Sam Burgess went on a two-day partying spree after his team lost the crucial preliminary final against the Roosters on September 22, 2018.
After the defeat, Burgess hit that Mad Monday hard and didn’t come home for two days, despite his wife’s pleas. On September 23, Phoebe was admitted to North Shore Private Hospital, 28 weeks pregnant.
“Phoebe was paralysed. She wasn’t eating or drinking and the baby stopped moving,” a close friend said.
She was prescribed an anti-anxiety medication safe for pregnancy. A close family member of Phoebe’s managed to get in contact with Burgess, told him his wife was in hospital and to sober up.
But Burgess allegedly refused, saying: “F … off. You can’t tell me what to do.”
Two days after the game, at 9.55pm on September 24, Phoebe Burgess texted Crowe asking if he was concerned about Burgess, in a text exchange provided to NSW Police in relation to Burgess’s pattern of behaviour.
“Are you concerned about him? Last I knew he was out partying with his teammates,” she wrote.
Crowe replied: “I haven’t heard from him since the game.”
Phoebe Burgess texted back: “He didn’t come home after the game, he called me immediately after the game in an emotional state, we were fine. Then went out with the boys without seeing us first. Then I was admitted to hospital and he sent me a message this morning but I was in ultrasound with baby. And he has just gone off the grid. I’m worried.”
Crowe was then told again about Burgess’s partying and use of drugs in another message from Phoebe Burgess two months later, on November 26, 2018.
“He is now being led by his elder brother on a trail of booze, heavy drugs and girls on social media,” Phoebe texted.
“He might need a good friend, bc he is just not our Sam. And definitely not the beautiful man I married for life.”
On November 26, Burgess hit the roof, saying “I’ve seen what you wrote to RC”. Burgess admonished Phoebe and complained that the “club” now thought he was a “drug addict”, and texted her at 7.35am: “What are you trying to solve here? Such lies.”
As the Burgess family tried to recover from the sexting scandal, and Burgess’s private revelation he’d been having an affair, they eagerly awaited the birth of their second child.
On November 4, 2018, Sam and Phoebe Burgess attended a farewell barbecue at Randwick Golf Club for departing Souths player Jason Clark.
Phoebe Burgess left the party in the afternoon and says in her statement Sam Burgess promised to be home at 7.30pm with dinner. But after briefly returning home at midnight, left again. An Uber receipt from 1.03am on November 5 records him heading out.
Burgess called at 7am and admitted he had been using cocaine, according to the statement Phoebe Burgess provided to NSW Police.
“He sounded high to me. I asked him if he had done drugs. He admitted to using cocaine,” she said in the statement.
Burgess did not return home the entire day of November 5, as he continued partying with his brother Luke and others.
After a trip to Baby Bunting on her own, Phoebe Burgess grew increasingly anxious as the day unfolded and she had not heard from her husband, with his phone turned off.
Meanwhile, Luke Burgess’s ¬ex-partner, Yolanda Hodgson, was also desperately trying to reach Luke. Ms Hodgson had been trying to call Luke Burgess since 9am, ringing about “100 times”, according to text messages obtained by The Australian.
With Ms Hodgson and Phoebe Burgess becoming increasingly panicked, both spoke to Sam’s mother Julie Burgess, who set out at 7.30pm to try to find her sons.
Text messages from the night, along with detailed accounts of what unfolded, have been provided to NSW Police as part of the upcoming AVO proceedings involving Sam Burgess and Mitch Hooke, and obtained by The Australian.
“Give me an hour,” Julie Burgess texted, “Am starting at ¬Chifley.”
Julie Burgess managed to track down the brothers at Justin Hemmes’ swanky bar, The Establishment, in the city.
Phoebe Burgess’ statement to police alleges when Julie Burgess dropped the brothers at Sam and Phoebe’s family home, both Sam and Luke were abusive and angry.
Phoebe Burgess claims Luke started shouting at Phoebe it was not her “f..king house” and ordered her to “sit down”.
In the morning, when the pair had continued partying overnight and with yelling coming from the basement, Julie Burgess called in sick from work to try and look after her sons. It was clear they had not slept, according to Phoebe Burgess’s statement to police.
Sam was red-eyed and looked scared and confused.
According to the statement to police, Luke followed Phoebe, who had Poppy on her hip, up the stairs yelling at her: “You’re a weak c.... Sam needs a strong partner. A strong woman. You’re weak. A weak c….” This isn’t your house, you f… piece of poo poo, you f… bitch.”
He started moving towards Phoebe Burgess, pointing his finger and screaming.
Julie stepped in physically between Mrs Burgess and Luke, shocked, and sent Phoebe upstairs with Poppy and put Luke in a cab to go home.
In her statement to police, Phoebe Burgess described her husband’s state. She said Sam was shirtless, his veins popping out of his arms, he was overheating, his skin was burning hot and his eyes dark.
“He looked wild like a caged animal, he was out of his tree and scared. His eyes at this point were scared, not aggressive, they kept darting between Julie and I,” she wrote.
As the day progressed, Burgess allegedly grabbed hold of his daughter, Poppy, and refused to give her back to Phoebe or Julie.
The statement to police alleges Burgess’ condition escalated, with Sam starting to scream and bang on the windows. Phoebe Burgess locked herself in her bedroom with her child and called fellow player, Jason Clark. “Please come and help me, I’m so scared,” Phoebe said on the phone, according to her statement to police.
Clark, who had just woken up, said he would stay on the phone while he came over, talking to her while he put his shoes on, got his keys, spoke to his wife and drove over, even describing the streets he was passing.
When Clark arrived, he and Julie took Sam back into the basement to reduce the risk of neighbours hearing the commotion.
Sam was running around, repeatedly yelling, “Where’s Biffa (Luke)? Get Biffa in the house.” One person present took a short video recording of this, which has been seen by The Australian.
Rabbitohs chief medical officer Andrew McDonald was called over to help. He also recommended calling in a psychiatric nurse, Jan Earl, who had experience with situations like this.
“Doc” Andrew McDonald promised Phoebe that if he felt Burgess’ condition was seriously deteriorating, he would take her husband to hospital, prioritising his health above his career.
“I looked Andrew McDonald in the eye and asked him to swear to me that he would tell me when it was time for me to call an ambulance and let the paramedics do their jobs. He nodded slowly and thoughtfully,” Phoebe Burgess said in her statement to police.
The statement also includes the allegation that Sam Burgess told Phoebe he had taken MDMA but later admitted to Earl he had taken six pills at once.
What unfolded was a cycle of screaming and incoherence, with episodes of violence, tears and aggression.
South Sydney Rabbitohs sign English player Sam Burgess on a four-year deal from the 2010 season.
Burgess is hailed for heroic efforts playing with a broken face in Souths’ first premiership victory in 43 years.
DEC 28, 2015
Marries Phoebe Hooke in NSW Southern Highlands.
MAY 26, 2018
Burgess is involved with other players in a video sexting exchange with a woman.
SEP 15, 2018
The Saturday Telegraph reveals Burgess’ social media accounts were used in the sexting exchange, which prompted a young woman to complain of lewd behaviour.
SEP 18, 2018
Burgess tells journalists: “There's an NRL investigation going on at the moment and I am happy for them to get to the truth, I really am … What hurts me the most is seeing my wife upset about what's out there."
SEP 21, 2018
Souths declares an official review has cleared all its players of actionable misconduct or breaches of contracts, rules or code of conduct. Burgess posts on Twitter: "I have not sexted anyone.”
NOV 4, 2018
Burgess allegedly starts a three day partying spree ending in a doctor injecting him with valium after writing a prescription in the name of his father-in-law Mitch Hooke. During this episode Sam Burgess is allegedly violent towards Phoebe. Sam Burgess has denied being violent.
Sam Burgess retires. He is also allegedly involved in an incident with his father-in-law at Phoebe's family home near Bowral, in the NSW Southern Highlands on October 19. Burgess is charged with intimidation and the subject of an AVO. He pleads not guilty and denies all allegations.
Witnessing much of the episode were Phoebe’s parents, Mitch and Sarah Hooke.
Mr Hooke, the former chief executive of the Minerals Council, has built a reputation over four decades as a tough negotiator.
Mr Hooke, 64, has not given a media interview since his retirement in 2013, but when asked about the events that unfolded on November 6 and 7, 2018, decided to answer questions, saying he was not prepared to be part of any cover-up. His voice quivered while describing the episode.
“We walked into a household that was in absolute turmoil,” Mr Hooke said.
“Phoebe was doing her best to guard Poppy upstairs. Sam was ¬absolutely going bananas downstairs. There was yelling and screaming, there were other people there. People were trying to console him.”
Mr Hooke said his son-in-law’s behaviour was “beyond recognition”. “I could hear him when I arrived screaming and he was ¬almost incoherent,” he said.
“He was loud and aggressive and just like nothing I’d ever seen or heard in anybody, and clearly a very, very different persona to anything that we had known in Phoebe’s time with him.”
Mr Hooke said Dr McDonald approached him on the stairwell to speak about Burgess’s condition.
“When the doctor came halfway up the stairs, I said: ‘You have to put this guy in hospital’,” Mr Hooke recalled.
“And he said: ‘Well he can’t go into a private hospital, he has to go to a public hospital.’ He said words to the effect: ‘If this gets out in the public arena this will impact his ¬career or earning capacity.’
“I said: ‘I don’t give a f..k about that, I’m worried about his health.”
According to Mr Hooke, Dr McDonald then started writing out a script. He handed it to Mr Hooke. “I looked at it and I said: ‘What’s the script for?’ He said: ‘Liquid ¬valium.’ I said: ‘This is in my name.’
“He said: ‘Yep’.”
Mr Hooke said he questioned Dr McDonald, telling him this was not right.
“He’s basically putting me in the position where I was going off to get a script made out in my name for a drug he was going to administer Sam,” he said.
“I had no alternative. Even my faint knowledge of the law knows that that’s not right but I had a doctor telling me there’s no other way. He wouldn’t put the script in Sam’s name.”
Documents obtained by The Australian confirm the prescription was issued by Mr McDonald for Burgess in Mr Hooke’s name.
The pharmacy has a prescription record of Diazepam AMP 10mg, in a quantity of 5, being issued on 6th November, 2018 to Mr Hooke, prescribed by Dr Andrew McDonald, which The Australian has obtained.
Mr Hooke’s Visa credit card statement also has a record of $18.50 for Walsh’s Village Pharmacy in Maroubra on November 6, 2018.
In her statement to police, Phoebe Burgess wrote: “Andrew McDonald administered small amounts of liquid diazepam AMP (10mg) via injections into Sam’s bicep, to slowly bring his pulse and heart rate down — if this was done too quickly, it could have been fatal. If this had not been done at all, it could also have been fatal.”
‘He’s out of control’
Mitch and Sarah Hooke said Burgess was violent towards others in the room.
At one point, Burgess was being restrained on one side by Clarke and on the other by Dr McDonald.
Witnesses recount how he kicked Ms Earl in the stomach, screamed at her: “Who is this fat slut, get out of my f … house, f … off you ugly c …, you don’t know me.”
Mr Hooke said he was aware of Burgess’ violence towards the others.
“I was aware of it, because Julie and Jan told me,” Mr Hooke said.
“Jan told me, ‘He’s out of control but I’ve done this before’, he’s kicked me, and Julie said, ‘He’s even hitting out at me.’ And you could see the red marks on Julie’s throat.
But Mr Hooke said the worst act of violence he had ever experienced first hand was directed at his pregnant daughter.
“He started calling for Phoebe. He was calling for Phoebe, Phoebe, Phoebe, and she said, ‘I’ll go to you’ and I said ‘No darling, he’s out of control’,” Mr Hooke recalled.
“Julie was down there, the doctor was down there and the nurse was down there. Phoebe went down.”
Mr Hooke said Burgess started apologising to Phoebe quietly. She walked towards him and he gently touched her stomach but within a second his demeanour changed.
Mr Hooke said he saw Burgess, who still had no shirt on, only jeans, aggressively collapse his entire 116kg weight on top of Phoebe, falling on her, grabbing her and aggressively squeezing her heavily pregnant stomach.
“He grabbed her. She was eight months pregnant. It was a really aggressive grab. Phoebe was struggling to get out of what was a very aggressive embrace,” Mr Hooke said.
“She struggled to get out. Someone pulled him from behind, she broke free and ran up the stairs into my arms.”
Phoebe screamed out as she fled into her father’s arms.
“I do remember Phoebe falling into my arms and her wailing was nothing I’d ever heard before. She was saying: ‘Somebody help him, help him.’ You could tell she was in pain. She was inconsolable, she was crying. There was this wail, you can’t describe it. As a father, I can’t think of anything that was more traumatic in my life,” he said.
“Here was his wife, eight months pregnant, and he was jeopardising her, his child, he had a daughter upstairs. She (Poppy) was screaming and crying and knew there was stuff going on. My wife was trying to protect her.
“His abuse of Phoebe was unprintable. He called her an effing c.... Who calls their wife that? I’ve never heard of this kind of stuff.
“I will never, ever forget. If anyone who is a father or mother, and hears their child let out that wail, it was deep and came out from right down inside, it was utter fear and traumatised like nothing I’ve ever heard.
“What really struck me at the time was despite his abuse of Phoebe she was more concerned about him than herself. When Phoebe came into my arms, she was wailing more for him than herself, she was saying: ‘Somebody help him, somebody help him, screaming at the top of her lungs.’
“She was still caring for this, this, this monster, this aggressive uncontrolled monster, she’s carrying his child and she’s still saying somebody help him and yet she’s just come from what was a terrifying experience. He was out of control and abusing her and physically attacked her. As a father, you can’t comprehend that kind of stuff. Looking back now, I can’t comprehend it let alone being stuck in the middle of it.”
Mr Hooke said he was worried for Phoebe’s unborn child.
“Massively. Massively. I was worried for Phoebe’s health. I was worried she was going to lose the baby,” he said.
“I got to tell you I’ve seen some heart-wrenching things in my time but that just about ripped my heart out.
“Here was my eight months pregnant daughter struggling up these steps to get away from her husband … It was probably the most confronting thing I can recall in my life.”
Phoebe Burgess’s mother, Sarah Hooke, said Julie Burgess was concerned the incident would be made public.
Mrs Hooke told The Australian she heard Julie Burgess say: “The media can’t get hold of this, they can’t get hold of this.”
Mrs Hooke said the entire incident was “horrendous”.
“It was heartbreaking,” Mr Hooke said.
“The whole episode was from another world. It was bizarre, the man we tried to love and became part of our family was suddenly a monster.”
Burgess finally came through the drug-fuelled bender in the early hours of November 7.
Julie Burgess let Dr McDonald out the house at 11pm on November 6 and slept beside her sons, ¬according to text messages seen by The Australian. In the messages Mrs Burgess said at 3am, Burgess woke and was coherent, having juice and crumpets to his mother’s relief. Julie Burgess and Jan Earl did not respond to requests for comment.
Drug test in car park
The morning after this episode concluded, November 7, 2018, Phoebe Burgess drove her husband to an underground carpark at Souths Juniors club on Anzac Parade, Kingsford.
Phoebe Burgess says in her police statement: “It was decided Sam would have a blood test. Somehow between them all it was decided we would take him to a private location and have a GP take the blood and urine samples.
“The car park was tight, narrow and winding. Sam kept growling at me over my driving.
“I was instructed to park in a specific part of the lowest level of the carpark.”
This was when a GP showed up — just appearing in the shadows — carrying testing kits. He opened the back door and greeted Sam warmly. He spoke lightly, almost in a jovial manner.
“Had a bit of trouble, have you Sammy mate? It’s OK, can’t see us down here, cameras don’t reach this spot. It’s the only blind spot in the place.
“Sam got out of the car to provide the urine — but he sat back in the car to allow the doctor to take a blood sample — in the dankest, darkest corner of the underground carpark.
“This was the point when it was clear the episode was over and the clean-up had begun.
“The test was taken. (The doctor) wrapped it all up and I heard them speak briefly about what name the pathology would be submitted under.
“The GP would call as soon as he received the results. It was imperative (to know) what was in the pills Sam took to ascertain how to treat him. Was it an overdose? Was it a bad batch of pills? Was it the mix? Or was it Sam’s brain, emotional condition, pressure, stress, concussions etc it was the first step in his recovery.
“(A nurse) explained that the GP who took Sam’s blood and urine samples would not be sending them to pathology under Sam Burgess. She explained that they would go under ‘Ben Smith’.
“The tests eventually came back (in a week or two). The pills were apparently a ‘bad batch’ of MDMA. They contained traces of rat poison, ketamine and other toxic chemicals.”
In October 2019, police took an apprehended violence order against Sam Burgess for the protection of his father-in-law, Mr Hooke.
This arose from an encounter at the Hookes’ family property at Glenquarry in the NSW Southern Highlands – the scene of the glittering 2015 wedding.
Sam Burgess arrived at the property to spend time with his children on October 19 and a confrontation ensued with Mr Hooke asking Sam to leave, which he did.
Arriving home to see her father terrified, Phoebe rang the police who then applied for the AVO on Mr Hooke’s behalf, as well as charging Burgess with one count of ‘intimidation (DV related)’. Burgess pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Burgess’s lawyer, Bryan Wrench, told the court in November 2019 the AVO was based on “false allegations … There was no violence, no intimidation and no threats.
“So far as an interim order is in place, we make no admissions and make denials.”
The matter is due to be heard in November.
While it was Phoebe who rang the police to protect her father, Mr Hooke told The Australian he had been deeply concerned about his daughter and worried how he could best protect her as her husband unravelled.
“We watched this outward, gregarious, bubbly personality just degenerate into this almost traumatised, cautious, anxious person – just so not our Phoebe,” he said.
“She was desperately trying to stay the course in the hope as she said to me that he would get help and that her children would have a father … trying to work through his problems and encourage him to get help.
“Good Sam was exceptional. That’s what we all experienced when they first met and subsequently married.
“We didn’t see the bad Sam then. And unbeknown to us she was covering up so much.
“It wasn’t until we were confronted with the full reality of what this girl had been suffering for the sake of her children and family I have got to tell you I bawled my eyes out for almost two days straight when confronted with the full knowledge of the systematic abuse she suffered and I’m not the sort of bloke that’s easily given to tears.
“We saw our second daughter, a huge part of our life’s work as parents and a family, unravelling before our eyes and we were paralysed to do anything about it.”