FORMER South Warrnambool footballer Billy Nicholls has been arrested at Geelong in dramatic circumstances.
Taskforce Griffin investigators charged William Lindsay Nicholls, 32, of Corio, following two non-fatal shooting incidents in the Geelong area.
The Nine Network showed dramatic footage of Mr Nicholls being arrested by heavily armed taskforce officers who burst from a van in Purnell Road as Mr Nicholls and another man were walking along the footpath.
It is understood the footage was caught on the dashboard camera of a car parked on the street and released to the television station without police permission. Mr Nicholls has been charged with two counts of intentionally cause serious injury and other related offences.
The charges relate to an alleged shooting in Myrtle Grove, North Shore, on January 8 during which a North Shore man, aged in his 40s, received serious injuries.
During the second alleged incident, a Coburg man aged in his 20s received leg injuries at Springfield Court, Corio, on 18 June last year.
Mr Nicholls appeared before Geelong Magistrates’ Court on Friday where he was remanded in custody to reappear this Thursday.
Taskforce Griffin was established in February this year to investigate a series of firearm thefts and gun related crimes.
The taskforce consists of detectives from the armed crime taskforce and Geelong district investigators and is based in Geelong.
Mr Nicholls previously played with AFL clubs Hawthorn and Richmond and was a forward for the Roosters in 2010, lining up in the losing Hampden league grand final for South Warrnambool against Warrnambool.
Former South Warrnambool football club president Gary Walsh said Mr Nicholls was a very good footballer.
“Bill came to South Warrnambool and we were able to help him secure a job at the Mortlake power station,” he said.
“Billy was not in prime physical shape when he arrived, but he dedicated himself to football. He never had a drink of alcohol in 10 months and lost between 15 and 20 kilograms.”
Mr Walsh said the footballer was a positive influence at South Warrnambool during his time with the club.
“He made an effort to turn around his life,” Mr Walsh said.
‘‘As a player he was very serviceable and he had the respect of his fellow players because of his commitment under coach Nigel Kol.
“Billy kicked six goals in a semi-final at Mortlake.
‘‘He was certainly looked up to by the younger players because he was an AFL player who turned up at the club out of condition and he dedicated himself to training and playing.”