The last person to see Robert Allenby on the night of his ordeal in Hawaii has jumped to the golfer’s defence and is outraged at former caddie Mick Middlemo suggesting the story is made up.
Anthony Puntoriero, a close friend of Allenby’s who was with him the night the Victorian golfer claimed to be drugged, beaten and robbed in Honolulu, has sprung to his friend’s defence suggesting Middlemo’s version of events could have been made for monetary gain.
Middlemo spoke out after the pair had a falling out at the Canadian Open last week, comparing Allenby to Bernard Tomic and suggesting the golfer made up his story to cover for a drunken fall.
“It’s a disgrace that everybody is taking as gospel the words of a man who had left the bar at least an hour before Robert was assaulted so the fact he has anything to say about it is unbelievable.
“I was there until a minute before he was taken and I was there the minute he got back to the hotel. The pure fact is there is a full police report, there has been an arrest and someone is in jail for what took place that night,” Puntoriero told AAP.
“I am livid because Mick was with us the next day looking at CCTV footage of how Robert left the place, he has seen it all, and yet he makes the claim he did. He is offering opinion like it is fact, which it clearly is not.
“I was with Robert for two days afterwards with police going through photos and videos of suspects and the rest of it and it was a traumatic experience.”
Puntoriero believes it was in fact the caddie who leaked the details of the night to the press in the first place and suggested Middlemo might be coming forward now for financial reward after recently asking Allenby for a loan to help with his restaurant in Atlanta.
While Allenby had posted a photo of himself on his Facebook page to show his family his injuries, Puntoriero says Middlemo took the photo and leaked it to the press, starting the media storm.
AAP were the first to speak to Allenby who originally thought he had been kidnapped and thrown out of a car, as that was what he had been told by a homeless woman, a claim that proved unsubstantiated in the coming weeks.
However the robbery is not in dispute. Owen Harbison was arrested in February on charges of identity theft, attempted theft and unauthorised possession of confidential personal information.
Harbison used Allenby’s credit cards and ID around Honolulu to buy gift cards, clothing and jewellery, racking up over US$23,000. As part of a plea deal, Harbison agreed to a five-year prison term with sentencing scheduled for August 12.
Middlemo has denied taking money for telling his side, claiming he knocked back offers.
“Not a cent. I turned down offers yesterday from Channel 7. It’s not about the money,” Middlemo told AAP via text message.
Allenby offered no comment when contacted.