09 December 2004
An All Black who tried dragging his pregnant wife back to their home at night has won the right to keep his name secret – provided he keeps out of trouble until his next court appearance.
Yesterday, the player appeared in the Waitakere Family Violence Court – a special pilot court being trialled in west Auckland – and pleaded guilty to assaulting his wife.
It is understood that the only other person to get permanent name suppression in the Waitakere court in recent years for a similar sort of case had been another man who had played for the All Blacks.
Judge Philip Recordon said the player had assaulted his wife, who was five months pregnant at the time, on the night of October 23.
It happened after “some issues” at the couple’s west Auckland home, when the player’s wife walked off lightly dressed intending to go to her mother’s house.
To stop her from walking, the player grabbed her and tried pushing her back to the house.
There was a struggle and he then tried dragging her home.
Judge Recordon said if the couple completed a counselling course, he would discharge the man without conviction.
He remanded him on bail to reappear in February.
A lawyer for the Sunday Star-Times newspaper, Robert Stewart, argued in court for the suppression order to be lifted.
Mr Stewart argued that there was no special circumstances in the case to warrant the suppression.
But Judge Recordon said interim name suppression would continue and was likely to be permanent.
He said that the offending was at the lower end of the scale.
The main consideration was the player’s wife and child.
“I am not so concerned about (the player) but his wife and children…to this couple the non publication order is not going to affect anyone outside this family.”
But in court, police prosecutor Sergeant Peter Syddall expressed concerns about any suppression order.
In seven years, he had not heard of any other case where name suppression had been given after a guilty plea was entered except for another man who was a former All Black.
“I am worried about the message that the court may be sending,” he said.
Judge Recordon said the man, who has no former convictions, could be seen as a current All Black and was “a rugby player of prominence”.
He hoped the man continued with his voluntary work in schools and rugby clubs.
“You maybe in time can use this experience as some sort of message to people you speak with.”