LAKE FREED FROM JAPANESE CELL
Former Hawk flies home, no charges laid
BRIAN Lake’s Japanese ordeal is over, after the Norm Smith medallist was last night released from an Osaka cell after nearly six days in custody.
The former Hawthorn and Western Bulldogs player, 36, had been detained in the city’s Minami police station since early last Sunday after a latenight altercation. He walked out looking tired just before 5.30pm Melbourne time. He has not been charged with any offence. Lake wrote an apology to the victim of the incident and also apologised in person in his endeavours to be released. Mediation was key, as strict Japanese custom made the process delicate for his legal team. He could have been held for up to 23 days without charge. Lake is set to return to Australia this weekend. “It’s obviously been a tough week for Brian, but he’s looking forward to returning home to see his loved ones,” said his manager Marty Pask last night. “He’s grateful for the support and guidance he received, in particular from his legal team and the Australian consulate.”
Mr Pask has been in Osaka since Wednesday night to assist Lake, who was also helped by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The former AFL star’s time in custody included strict visitation requirements and tough conditions, with prisoners believed to be allowed just three bowls of rice per day.
Lake travelled to Osaka to compete in an AFL Asia tournament after a stint in Bali.
Last Saturday night, after the tournament ended, he and teammates went to the The Blarney Stone, an Irish pub in the Shinsaibashi district, home to hundreds of bars, nightclubs and karaoke venues.
Pub staff were keen to point out to the Herald Sun that no incident had occurred there. Lake had moved on to another venue by the time things went awry.
Brownlow medallist Adam Cooney has described the last six months of Lake’s life, which included a marriage break-up, as the “most stressful point” in his close mate’s life.
Lake’s team coach for the Osaka tournament, former Essendon player Rick Olarenshaw, also said this week that Lake had “been going through a fair bit mentally” and that he had travelled to Bali “for a break” that has lasted far longer than intended.
DFAT warns travellers of the differences in the Japanese legal system, including that detainees can be held for up to 23 days without charge.
“You’re subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards,” it says in its advice to travellers.
“Even if you consider the alleged offence may be minor, you may be held for weeks or months during the investigation and legal proceedings.”
Initial police interviews can last for several hours, and while detainees are permitted to remain silent or have an interpreter provided, DFAT says that Japanese police are entitled to question foreigners in custody without a lawyer present, and that “English interpretation may be substandard”.
Associate Professor Stacey Steele, Melbourne University specialist in Japanese law, said the lengthy nature of Lake’s plight would partly be due to logistic issues such as engaging translators and local counsel.
Lake’s situation, Prof Steele said, also proved a timely reminder for Australians travelling abroad, particularly with the 2019 Rugby World Cup and 2020 Olympics looming in Japan.
He encouraged Australian organisers, competitors and supporters to heed warnings and to be aware.
“Foreigners going to Japan need to realise: have a good time and enjoy yourself, but do it safely and do it with your mates,” he said.
THE BLARNEY STONE PUB SHINSAIBASHI, OSAKA MINAMI POLICE STATION