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Live coverage of the NRL judiciary hearing for Newcastle forward Mitch Barnett

Please refresh this page for regular updates during the night.

8:03pm: Mitch Barnett has been suspended for six matches after being found guilty of reckless dangerous contact.

7:30pm: The hearing has now adjourned while the judiciary panel of former players Bob Lindner and Tony Puletua consider their verdict. If they are in disagreement, judiciary chairman Geoff Bellew will be called on to break the deadlock.

7:20pm: Judiciary chairman Geoff Bellew is finishing his directions to the panel, telling them to first determine whether the contact was intentional, reckless or careless.

7:09pm: The judiciary has been told by Gyles that under the new judiciary code Barnett may be entitled to a one-match reduction of his ban for pleading guilty to careless dangerous contact. 

7:05pm: Gyles countered in his summary that Smith immediately went down and suffered a concussion. "He was prone and defenceless against someone running at force".

7pm: Ghabar said the panel should take into account that there was no injury to Smith, and called for a four match suspension because of Barnett's contrition and remorse.

6:55pm: Ghabar has submitted a character reference from former ARL CEO John Quayle, who has known Barnett since 2016 in his role with the Knights.

6:53pm: Ghabar said the first and most significant contact was near the Panthers logo on Smith's jersey and Barnett's arm had pushed upwards. "His elbow made no contact with the jaw. There may have been secondary contact with the forearm on the jaw".

6:48pm: Still under questioning from Gyles, Barnett conceded: "My forearm may have made contact with his head but if it did it wasn't very forceful". Gyles said the first point of contact was with Barnett's foreman to Smith's jaw and the second point of contact was with his elbow to the chest.

6:45pm: Gyles said Barnett had used his elbow to strike Smith with a "blunt instrument". He continued: "The incident was so late that the television cameras almost didn't pick it up". 

6:43pm: Under questioning from Gyles, Barnett said: "I didn't feel I made contact with his jaw. I feel it was his chest. I may have scraped his face".

6:40pm: NRL legal counsel Lachlan Gyles SC suggested the incident was highly reckless at best and called for a minimum suspension of eight matches and more if the panel believed it was intentional.

6:35pm: Asked how he felt after being sent off, Barnett said: "I felt horrible. Not only did I let my team-mates down for the rest of the game ... I was worried for Chris. I didn't know how he was. I made a split second decision at speed to try to stop a try. If I had my time again I wouldn't raise my arm so high."

6:30pm: Barnett insisted the point of contact had been with Smith's chest and not his jaw. "I feel like it is the upper part of his chest. That is why it was careless. I wish I didn't raise my arm that high".

6:27pm: Barnett said he had been bracing himself for contact with Smith. "I raised my bumper because I wanted to push through without falling over. We are coached to not to leave it up to the referee - to get through and make the tackle."  

6:23: Barnett continues: "I hadn't seen the player until the last second when he came into my peripheral vision. My goal is to fill the space [between Clune and Bradman Best] without getting knocked over. I just saw a black jersey. I made a split-second decision". 

6:20pm: Barnett, under questioning from his legal representative Nick Ghabar, said he had been trying to prevent a Penrith overlap near the Knights line after halfback Adam Clune had jammed in on Sean O'Sullivan.

"My focus is to the outside because I know there is a definite threat there. My ultimate goal is to effectively make it three-on-three to stop the try," Barnett said.

6:10pm: Barnett's legal representative Nick Ghabar confirmed the Knights forward would plead guilty but maintains his actions were careless. NRL counsel Lachlan Giles SC said he would argue that the incident was intentional or highly reckless. 

6.07pm: The hearing has begun with NRL counsel Lachlan Giles SC outlining Barnett's record of six previous offences since 2015, including a grade three dangerous contact charge for a crusher tackle. 

6.00pm Newcastle's Mitch Barnett has arrived at Rugby League Central accompanied by Knights GM of football Danny Buderus for his judiciary hearing after being sent off for striking Penrith's Chris Smith with a raised forearm in Bathurst last Saturday.

The Newcastle forward has pleaded guilty to dangerous contact after being referred to the tribunal on an ungraded charge - the first player to do so under the modified judiciary system introduced this season.

His case will be heard by a panel comprising former players Bob Lindner, Tony Puletua and judiciary chairman Geoff Bellew.

Barnett is being represented by Nick Ghabar, while NRL counsel Lachlan Giles SC is the prosecutor.

He was also the first player sent from the field in 2022 and the first Knights player given his marching orders during a match since Kade Snowden in 2013.

The off-the-ball incident occurred in the 32nd minute after Barnett struck Smith's chin with his elbow as the Panthers second-rower ran as a decoy.

Smith failed a HIA and has not been named in the Penrith team to meet South Sydney on Friday night. 

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