An appeal against the discharge without conviction of former Wellington rugby representative Losi Filipo on charges of assault has been allowed by the High Court.
The discharge was granted by Judge Bruce Davidson in the Wellington District Court in August.
Mr Filipo, who was 17 at the time, had been charged with assaulting two men and two women in central Wellington in October 2015.
Mr Filipo's lawyer successfully argued a conviction could damage his client's rugby career.
But the Crown told the High Court he should have been jailed for three to three-and-a-half years
The case did not come to public attention until the details were aired in the media last month, at which stage Solicitor-General Una Jagose became aware of it and gave police permission to appeal against the discharge without conviction.
In a judgement released this afternoon, Justice Collins said the discharge without conviction should be set aside.
Justice Collins said the injuries Mr Filipo inflicted were grave, and the fact he was still at school and had no previous convictions at the time of the attack should not have meant he was discharged without conviction.
He ruled the evidence fell short of demonstrating there was a real risk Mr Filipo would not be able to play professional rugby if he was convicted.
He said Mr Filipo pleaded guilty after being given an indication he would be discharged without conviction, and he should be given the opportunity to change his plea if he wished.
If he did so, the case would be sent back to the District Court for trial.