Southland Sharks bar brawlers plead guilty

00:23, Jun 19 2014
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Reuben Rangi-Ua Te Rangi

Southland Sharks basketballers have pleaded guilty to attacking bar staff outside a New Plymouth pub last month.

Leon Henry, 28, Reuben Te Rangi, 19, and Shea Ili, 21, pleaded guilty to assaults and were remanded on bail to August 1 for sentencing.

All three appeared in the New Plymouth District Court this morning in front of Judge Geoffrey Ellis local and a large contingent of local and national media.

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Leon Hofeni Nehemiah Henry

Henry admitted two charges, injuring with intent to injure and assault with intent to injure.

Ili also pleaded guilty to two charges, common assault and assault with intent to injure while Te Rangi admitted one charge of assault with intent to injure.

The players were arrested and charged with assault in the early hours of May 25.

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Shea Ulima Stephen Ili

Hours before the melee erupted, the basketballers had been in the winning team which snatched a last minute win from the Taranaki Mountain Airs by 83-81.

The Southland Sharks management has since made a public apology for the alleged assault ''to the people of Taranaki''.

New Plymouth's Crowded House bar was also emailed an apology from the Sharks' general manager Jill Bolger.

It is alleged that the attack was sparked after some of the basketballers became angered when refused entry to a series of city bars because they did not have proof of identification on them.

When the attacks occurred - about 2am - most of the team had already returned to their hotel.

Witnesses saw the group as they attempted to run back to the hotel but were rounded up by police.

Taranaki Daily News