6 Jan 2014

NZ league player jailed for assault

10:09 pm on 6 January 2014

Former New Zealand Warriors rugby league player Russell Packer has been jailed for two years in Australia for an assault in central Sydney. He has lodged an appeal.

The 24-year-old prop on Monday pleaded guilty in the Downing Centre Local Court to charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and failing to quit a venue.

Russel Packer.

Russel Packer. Photo: AAP

The New Zealander was charged after repeatedly punching a man outside a venue at Martin Place in November last year. The incident left his 22-year-old victim unconscious with a fractured eye socket, the ABC reports.

Packer's lawyers told the court that their client is having counselling for anger management and alcohol issues. They said while the assault was serious, it was not a king hit.

But the police prosecutor said Packer had plenty of opportunities to walk away from the fight and continued to attack his victim even when he was unconscious on the ground.

Magistrate Greg Grogan told the court that the community and courts were sick of alcohol-related violence and sentenced Packer to the maximum available penalty.

The outcome was a surprise to Packer and his legal team, who first asked the court to re-open the sentence and then lodged an immediate appeal against it and have applied for bail.

Packer has played 110 games for the New Zealand Warriors in the NRL, but signed a contract in October 2013 to join the Newcastle Knights. The NRL has refused to register his contract.