29 Sep 2016

Surprise at delay in appeal over rugby player's discharge

8:14 pm on 29 September 2016

It is surprising police did not move earlier to appeal a rugby player's discharge without conviction, the Criminal Bar Association says.

Wellington Lions player Losi Filipo

Losi Filipo Photo: Wellington Lions

Losi Filipo, who was 17 at the time, had been charged with assaulting two men and two women in central Wellington last October.

He was discharged without conviction, and police have now filed an appeal against this.

Criminal Bar Association vice-president Len Andersen questioned the handling of the case by both the police and the Solicitor-General.

"The issue that you wonder about is why, if the police were unhappy about it, there wasn't a move earlier.

"It surprised me that the Solicitor-General said they had no knowledge of it when the publicity started, despite the fact that quite clearly it was a matter of public interest," Mr Andersen said.

In a statement earlier this afternoon, Crown Law said the Solicitor-General had reviewed the case and given police permission to appeal.

The application to do so had been filed in the High Court in Wellington.

The decision to discharge Filipo without conviction, and Wellington Rugby's decision to support him after the attack, had led to accusations that he escaped conviction because of his promising rugby career.

Filipo's contract with Wellington Rugby was terminated on Tuesday.

Apology from rugby club

Earlier today, the Wellington Lions rugby club apologised to the victims of the attack.

The team's coach, Earl Va'a, said it was not a representation of what the side stood for.

"I would like to personally express my disappointment at the actions of the player involved," Va'a said.

"They were quite simply unacceptable, violence towards anyone, especially women, cannot be tolerated in our society," he said.

Filipo said in a statement earlier this week that he had made a huge mistake and had apologised for his actions.

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