Panthers mascot guilty of fraud

The man who plays the role of the Penrith Panthers mascot, Paws, has lost the part following his conviction for welfare fraud.

In Penrith District Court today, Brian Davis was sentenced to 18 months’ home detention for fraud charges going back six years and involving more than $61,000.

Apart from his role as Paws, Davis is employed full-time as a bar attendant and has a role as an Occupational Health and Safety officer with the club.

“Mr Davis pleaded guilty to the charges and has been paying the money back to the Commonwealth from his wages as an employee of Panthers,” a spokesman for the club said today.

”We will keep him on as an employee because we are a compassionate organisation and want to help him in his rehabilitation. This decision also means that he will continue to earn money to repay his debt to the Commonwealth.

“However, in view of the fact that Paws is held up as a role model to children, we do not think it appropriate that he continue as our mascot,” the spokesman said.

A decision has yet to be made on whether to find another person to play the part of Paws or have a new mascot.

Meanwhile, Amos Roberts will make his debut for the Panthers first grade side when they play the Raiders in Canberra on Friday night. Roberts replaces Brett Howland, who has a leg injury.

Panthers: 1. Rhys Wesser, 2. Amos Roberts, 3. Luke Lewis, 4. Paul Whatuira, 5. Luke Rooney, 6. Preston Campbell, 7. Craig Gower (c), 8. Joel Clinton, 9. Luke Priddis, 10. Martin Lang, 11. Joe Galuvao, 12. Tony Puletua, 13. Trent Waterhouse. Interchange: 14. Ben Ross, 15. Shane Rodney, 16. Luke Swain, 17. Danny Galea.