6 Jan 2016

Youth worker reinstated despite fight with teen

7:36 pm on 6 January 2016

A youth worker who was sacked after getting into a fight with a teenager has won his job back - at least for now.

Maauga Tuilaepa also faces assault charges, but the Employment Relations Authority has determined he can return to work until his unfair dismissal case is heard in March.

Mr Tuilaepa had worked for Child, Youth and Family for 16 years without a disciplinary blemish.

In September, while restraining a boy at a youth facility, he punched him and stood on his hand.

In a statement, he said he acted in self-defence as the boy tried to punch him, gouge his eyes, and struck him in the groin.

"At some point [the boy] kneed/kicked me in the groin. I took preventative action to try and prevent another assault on my genital area through trying to pin his leg with my leg. [The boy] then threw another punch to my head... He had a grip of my hoodie, and used the leverage to gouge my right eye with his thumb," he said.

"This necessitated that I break his hold quickly, or potentially lose my eye. I couldn't really use my right hand/arm, as this was tangled up. I therefore threw some punches into his body/head area."

Mr Tuilaepa said he deeply regretted the incident.

He was sacked for excessive force, but the Authority said he deserved to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise.

The incident was filmed on CCTV.