RUGBY LEAGUE: Arrested Devereux denies box theft

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The Independent Online
The Widnes and Great Britain back, John Devereux, was arrested yesterday in connection with a stolen charity box.

The former Wales and Lions rugby union player, who joined Widnes from Bridgend in 1989, has been bailed to appear at Charing Cross Magistrates' Court on 1 February.

It was at a reception following the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year show in London on 11 December that a box, containing an unknown sum of money, apparently disappeared from a cloakroom at the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre in the early hours of the morning.

Devereux was interviewed by Scotland Yard detectives at Wigan police station yesterday morning. He emerged to say: "I have categorically denied any involvement."

His solicitor, Brian Canavan, said later that Devereux had been interviewed because he was one of a number of people identified on a security video as having gone into the cloakroom.

"It was three in the morning and there was a lot of larking around going on, but, as far as taking any money was concerned, he was not involved at all," he said.

The Widnes chairman, Jim Mills, issued a statement emphasising the club's full backing for the player. Later in the day, however, Devereux was arrested.

Devereux, 28, capped eight times for Great Britain at league, at both centre and on the wing, only accepted an invitation to attend the ceremony because he was out of action because of a broken jaw which he sustained in October.

He hopes to be able to play again at the end of January, but his future in the sport, already complicated by a long-running contract dispute with Widnes, is now under a cloud.

Denis Betts, a member of the Wigan side that won the BBC's Team of the Year award that night, had already been interviewed by the police because he too appeared on the security video. No further action is to be taken in his case. Betts was asked to identify other people on the video including a Wigan team-mate who appeared briefly but has not been involved in inquiries.

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