NZ police appeal after player let-off on assault

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 08:47
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REACTION: New Zealand prosecutors said Thursday they would appeal against a judge's decision not to convict a teenage rugby star over a vicious assault because it could damage his sporting career.

The case stirred widespread anger in the rugby-mad nation, with allegations the justice system was giving sports stars special treatment.

New Zealand Rugby also found itself in the firing line after initially standing by the player, Losi Filipo, then backing down and tearing up his contract as the backlash grew.

Filipo's defence did not dispute the facts of the unprovoked late-night attack on four people, including two women, in central Wellington last year.

The teenager stamped on the head of one of the male victims as he lay prone on the ground, leaving the man unable to work for eight months.

In sentencing, judge Bruce Davidson said such a serious attack would normally attract an 18-month jail term but a conviction would hinder Filipo's chances of playing professionally.

"I have to ask myself, are the courts truly in the business of destroying people's career prospects?" he asked.

The Solicitor-General's office said the judge's decision had been reviewed and an appeal was being lodged.

"Approval has been given to police to file an application for leave to appeal, on a question of law, against the decision to discharge Filipo without conviction," it said in statement.

Agence France-Presse