“Do you just assume people want milk and sugar with their tea? No, you ask.”
Denes chided May for not entering a guilty plea earlier in proceedings and questioned whether the footballer had shown an appropriate level of contrition.
May’s barrister, Richard Pontello SC, pointed to a text message his client had sent to one of the victims once the video became public.
“Oh f–k, so sorry,” the text stated. “I hope you are okay. I will try to keep you in the loop from my end. Thank you for being such a legend.”
Pontello added that May had suffered from depression and that his career was “hanging by a thread.”
In handing down her decision, Magistrate Denes said: “This is an offence which takes what was consensual sexual acts to another level. It does breach trust … (his outstanding reputation) makes the breach of trust all the worse.”
The 23-year-old was one of the first players stood down under the game’s new protocols cracking down on player behaviour and has already effectively copped a 25-game ban given he missed the entire 2019 season.
The criminal offence carries a maximum penalty of three years jail time and the prosecution called for a custodial sentence, asking that a statement be made that “women are not playthings.”
Pontello asked Magistrate Denes to consider May’s work in the community, undertaken before and after the offences, including Penrith’s ‘Panthers on the Prowl’. Magistrate Denes said it was an “inappropriate name” for the program.
“They didn’t think that through very well,” she said. “They may want to change the name of that.”
May met two women online on separate occasions in 2018 and secretly recorded them while having consensual sex. Those recordings subsequently made their way into the public arena after they were leaked online.
The first incident took place at the Best Western Zebra Motel after May met with a Coffs Harbour woman via Tinder.
The second occurred several months later at an apartment complex in Kingswood. Also in the unit was May’s nephew George Ragheb, an unknown man and former Panthers reserve grade player Liam Coleman. The son of legendary South Sydney halfback Craig Coleman, he has been convicted of the indecent assault of a woman at a hotel in Sydney’s eastern suburbs during a separate incident.
The quartet were in the midst of a consensual orgy when the woman realised there were mobile phones in the room. She asked not to be filmed.
She was informed the video had emerged publicly nine months later and reported the matter to police. May pleaded guilty to four counts of intentionally recording an intimate image without consent last May.
Nathan Cleary spoke out in support of May during the week and hoped they would be reunited at the Panthers scrumbase.
Adrian Proszenko is the Chief Rugby League Reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald.