Mitch Coleborn was the victim of a classic mix-up. He was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time — and unfortunately for him, he happened to have his cock out.
The place was just round the corner from a Canadian primary school, and the time was 8.40 on a Friday morning. The cock, you’ll be pleased to know, was flaccid and entirely innocent.
Its owner was in Tofino, on Canada’s Vancouver Island, for the 2010 O’Neill Cold Water Classic, where the then 23-year old finished eighth. The contest’s end was followed by jovial celebrations that lasted well into the next day, and culminated in what was described as a “nudie run” and Mitch’s subsequent arrest.
“He is alleged to have exposed his genitals in a public place to people, including several children,” Royal Canadian Mounted Police sergeant Jeff Preston said after the incident. “Alcohol was definitely a factor.”
He was charged with indecent exposure, the punishment for which would entail the addition of his name to the Canadian sex offender’s registry, visa restrictions preventing him from travelling to certain countries, among them the United States, and potentially a stint in jail.
Coleborn was released from custody that Friday evening, though was required to surrender his passport and remain in British Columbia until his court hearing several weeks later. His passport was returned a few days later in exchange for $5,000, enabling him to travel to Santa Cruz, California, for the finale of the Cold Water Classic Series.
Friends and colleagues were quick to leap to the Australian’s defence. “There would be a lot of people out there who have dropped their dacks and done a run,” said Matt Clark, a member of the same Sunshine Coast boardriders club as Coleborn. “It was just a bit of Aussie culture that has offended someone… It’s out of character. He’s a really nice guy and pretty well behaved.”
Volcom team manager Matt Bemrose spoke to Tracks magazine shortly after Mitch’s arrest: “It sounds real bad. The media have just gone the whole hog and painted it as something that as far as I can tell is nothing of the sort. We’ve spoken to Mitch and others and apparently the truth will come out. But if he’s proven innocent I’m betting you won’t read about it in the same papers and websites that blew it up.”
Bemrose’s predictions proved correct. Coleborn entered a “not guilty” plea at the initial hearing in November 2010 and a new court date was scheduled for March the following year, but the charge was dropped a week before Coleborn was due to appear in court — a detail which did indeed go largely ignored by the media.
“Due to the level of intoxication, we wouldn’t be able to prove that the act that was alleged was a wilful act,” said Neil MacKenzie of the British Columbian prosecutor’s office, adding that further information provided by Coleborn’s lawyer would have made it impossible to establish the necessary level of criminal intent.