A promising young rugby star has avoided conviction after punching his ex’s date in the head.
Teariki Ben-Nicholas debuted for New Zealand’s under-20 team at the Oceania junior champs last year.
The No 8 also plays senior club rugby in Wellington and for the Hurricanes under-20 team.
Ben-Nicholas moved from Auckland to Wellington to study law and commerce.
According to court documents released to The Herald, Ben-Nicholas was out drinking in Wellington, following a “rugby success” in October 2014 when he found out his ex girlfriend was at a Wellington bar with her new boyfriend.
A “slightly intoxicated” Ben-Nicholas went to the bar, approached the other man in the toilets and punched him in the head.
The 20-year-old admitted a charge of common assault in relation to the incident and made a “full and genuine apology” during a restorative justice meeting, The Herald reported.
At sentencing in the Wellington District Court, Judge Peter Rollo granted an application for a discharge without conviction.
Judge Rollo said the consequences of a conviction would be out of proportion to the seriousness of the offence.
However, police opposed the application for a discharge, arguing the assault was serious and any effects on travel plans and work as a professional rugby player were not certain.
During last month’s sentencing Judge Rollo said: “The information which is before me suggests that you have every opportunity to pursue a professional rugby career at the top level, maybe even rising as far as the All Blacks if your development continues.”
This is pretty appalling.
It was an unprovoked assault, due to jealousy. He should get a conviction for that.
If he really is a good rugby player, he’ll be able to travel to play for a top team. It just means they’ll need to get a visa. An assault conviction is not an automatic travel ban.
The judiciary is far too happy to let criminals off without a conviction if they are a sportsperson.