Brisbane Bronco David Fifita released from Kuta Police Station in Kuta after signing the peace agreement. Picture. Lukman S. Bintoro
Brisbane Bronco David Fifita released from Kuta Police Station in Kuta after signing the peace agreement. Picture. Lukman S. Bintoro

Bali ‘extortion’: Arrested Bronco reveals all

DAVID Fifita and his mother have lifted the lid on their Bali ordeal, claiming the Broncos star was the victim of an extortion bid and police slurs and feared an extended stint in an Indonesian jail.

For the past three months, the Fifita family has stayed silent on the holiday from hell that saw the Broncos forward spend three days in a police holding cell after allegedly assaulting a security guard outside a Bali nightclub.

Today, in an exclusive interview with The Sunday Mail, David and Gwen Fifita tell their side of the story.

"It was scary over there," the Broncos teenager said.

"People really don't know what happened."

Until now.

The Queensland State of Origin player maintains he did not assault anyone in Bali.

Gwen (right) believes her son was "set up", with Fifita targeted by police taunts such as "million-dollar baby" on his arrest - a reference to news reports that rival NRL clubs were ready to offer the 19-year-old $1 million a season.

Brisbane Bronco David Fifita released from Kuta Police Station in Kuta after signing the peace agreement. Picture. Lukman S. Bintoro
Brisbane Bronco David Fifita released from Kuta Police Station in Kuta after signing the peace agreement. Picture. Lukman S. Bintoro

Gwen says Fifita has never encountered trouble with police in Australia.

His release was secured after he paid $30,000 using his personal savings, with Gwen lauding the work of the Broncos, chiefly welfare officer Adam Walsh, who flew to Bali, to bring her son home.

"It was a terrible situation and I will always appreciate what the Broncos did to get my son out of jail," she said.

"He was very worried he wouldn't get back home. The police were telling him he would go to prison. They were blackmailing him and threatening him and saying you won't get out.

"David never had one issue as a kid growing up. He has never seen the inside of a police car in Brisbane. He has never been to a police station. He has no criminal record.

"He has never been questioned by police over an incident. Nothing.

 

Muhammad Rifan Lawyer of Brisbane Broncos star David Fifita. (Picture. Lukman S. Bintoro)
Muhammad Rifan Lawyer of Brisbane Broncos star David Fifita. (Picture. Lukman S. Bintoro)

 

"I brought my boys up to respect and care for people.

"The simple fact is I know my son better than anyone. David is not a fighter. Yes, he is a big guy on the football field, but ever since he was a boy he hated confrontation. He doesn't like people arguing. He tries to keep the peace all the time. I do believe it was extortion or something along those lines."

'DON'T TRUST ANYONE'

Fifita, who celebrates his 20th birthday this Tuesday, is not a worldly character. He has not travelled extensively and still lives at home with his mum in southwest Brisbane.

So when Fifita advised Gwen he was heading to Bali for an end-of-season holiday with his good mate at the Broncos Payne Haas, her mother's instinct kicked in.

"Before Dave left for Bali, I said to him, 'Be very careful and be very wary of people over there'," she said.

"I said, 'Don't trust anybody, stay very close to Payne and enjoy your time'."

 

The CCTV footage is grainy. The man, said to be Fifita, appears to put his arm out in the vicinity of another person, reportedly a nightclub security officer. Picture Channel 9
The CCTV footage is grainy. The man, said to be Fifita, appears to put his arm out in the vicinity of another person, reportedly a nightclub security officer. Picture Channel 9

 

Within days, Gwen woke up on November 9 to a torrent of texts and missed phone calls. She scanned her phone. There were frantic calls from Fifita trying to reach her. She fielded a call from Fifita's junior football coach Lincoln McLeod, a former police detective, who was the first person to speak to Fifita.

The Broncos hulk told him he was behind bars at Kuta police station after being arrested over an alleged assault.

"When I got the call, I was petrified," Gwen says.

"I couldn't believe what Lincoln was telling me.

"His words were, 'Gwen, I have some news, I just got off the phone to David and he is in a bit of trouble. He has been detained by police'.

"I was emotional. I was devastated. I couldn't sleep. I was so far away and felt helpless, I was worried sick. I said 'what are we going to do?'

"It was the worst moment of my life and David's life. David was crying, he was terrified … very stressed."

 

Broncos player David Fifita on the night of his arrest.
Broncos player David Fifita on the night of his arrest.

 

David Fifita in Bali police custody. Picture: Supplied
David Fifita in Bali police custody. Picture: Supplied

 

Gwen contacted Broncos CEO Paul White in a panic. White offered her reassurance, calling on Walsh, a former SAS soldier, to fly to Indonesia to begin brokering Fifita's release with local authorities.

DRUNK AND SCARED

Footage of the incident showed a man, alleged to be Fifita, on the back of an ojek, an Indonesia motorbike taxi.

The CCTV footage is grainy. The man, said to be Fifita, appears to put his arm out in the vicinity of another person, reportedly a nightclub security officer.

Fifita, who was intoxicated at the time of his arrest, has given his version of events that night to Gwen.

Today, she reveals the bizarre nature of his arrest.

"It all started in the nightclub," she said.

"I asked how he was treated in the nightclub. Dave said the same men who arrested him were the same guys in the nightclub who put him and Payne in a VIP area.

"Inside the club, they didn't say they were police. They were chaperoning him and Payne.

"Then, when David went outside, they grabbed him and said you are coming with us, we are the police, you hit a security guard.

 

David Fifita with mum, Gwen Fifita
David Fifita with mum, Gwen Fifita

 

"The stories changed as well. At first, they said he hit a security guard inside the club. Then they said it was while he was on the bike.

"There was no evidence David hit anyone. The footage doesn't even show he hit the security guard. If you are on a bike and you try and hit someone, you are a fair chance of falling off the bike at speed.

"The people that drove him to the police station had no uniforms. They were screaming and yelling in their language at him.

"They were pulling him and grabbing him. He was intoxicated. He was so scared.

"When David arrived at Kuta police station, a solicitor was already waiting there. An Australian solicitor. It was 4am. How does a solicitor get there so quick?

"He said, 'This can all go away if you pay $30,000'.

"When I finally got to talk to him over there, Dave said, 'Mum, I swear I didn't hit anyone. They have set me up'.

"I believe it was all about money."

To put the demands in a financial context, one Australian dollar is equivalent to 9057 Indonesian rupiah. A $30,000 payment equates to a staggering IDR271,731,360.

THREE DAYS IN HELL

As Walsh and the Broncos attempted to negotiate a positive outcome, Fifita spent 72 hours behind bars.

"You know how it all goes down in Bali," Fifita said. "The jail was dirty, really dirty."

The conditions in the cell were so revolting Fifita quickly became ill.

He was forced to urinate in a water bottle and his feet were exposed to a bug-infested cell with grime so thick the floor had turned black.

"The cell was disgusting," Gwen said. "By the third day, he was feeling very sick.

"The floor was so dirty his toe got infected from the filth and he had spots all over his body.

"There was no pillow, no mat, no towel to sit on.

"Dave says being stuck in that cage was the worst moment of his life.

"They wanted money the whole time.

"When they were working out the payment (for his release), they wanted more money. The amounts would change. It was such a fraud."

 

Brisbane Broncos NRL player David Fifita is greeted by his mother as he arrives at the Brisbane International Airport. (AAP Image/Glenn Hunt)
Brisbane Broncos NRL player David Fifita is greeted by his mother as he arrives at the Brisbane International Airport. (AAP Image/Glenn Hunt)

 

Upon his release, Fifita partook in a photo with Dani Irawan, the pint-sized security guard he allegedly attacked.

There were conspiracy theories that the Broncos used club funding to pay the $30,000 settlement, but Gwen insists Fifita paid every cent of that himself.

"The truth is David paid the $30,000 out of his savings account," she said. "The Broncos did not pay it.

"David is actually a good saver and he had enough money saved up.

"He budgets his money really well. He doesn't blow his money. He saves a lot and likes knowing where his money goes. He doesn't spend it on crap.

"Thankfully he had money set aside to get himself out of trouble."

Fifita is so ashamed by the event that he struggles to talk about it. He says he has learnt some life-shaping lessons.

"I learnt when everything is going well everyone wants to talk to you, when everything is going bad they don't want anything to do with you," he said.

"That's what I really learnt. I know who the real (loved) ones are. My family has always been supportive.

"I'm feeling all right since what happened in the off-season. I'm over it, but people keep bringing it up.

"It's done now. I can move on. I'm happy it's all over and sort of put to bed.

"No matter what happens you've got to keep standing up on your own two feet and keep moving forward."

For all the innuendo, tears and allegations, Gwen is just happy to have her son back safe in the family home.

"When he walked out of Kuta police station and the sun shone on him, I can't describe how happy and relieved I was. It was tears of joy," Gwen says. "I don't think he will ever go back to Bali. He has learnt a big lesson."



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