NZ Herald 11 January 2016
A promising young rugby player with a “glittering career” ahead of him has avoided a conviction for punching a man who was at a bar with the sportsman’s ex-girlfriend.
Teariki Ben-Nicholas, 20, made his debut for the New Zealand under-20 team at the Oceania junior champs on the Gold Coast last year. He plays senior club rugby in Wellington, where he is studying law and commerce, and for the Hurricanes under-20 team.
Ben-Nicholas admitted a charge of common assault stemming from an incident in October 2014. He was out drinking “after a rugby success” when he learned his ex was at a Wellington bar with her new boyfriend, according to court documents released to NZME.
A “slightly intoxicated” Ben-Nicholas went there, approached the other man in the toilets and punched him in the head. He later made a “full and genuine apology” at a restorative justice meeting.
At sentencing in the Wellington District Court, Judge Peter Rollo granted an application for a discharge without conviction, saying the consequences of a conviction would be out of proportion to the seriousness of the offence.
Police opposed the application for a discharge, arguing that the assault was serious and any effects on travel plans and work as a professional rugby player were not certain.