Rugby league great awaits decision

JONATHAN CARSON
Last updated 05:00 18/12/2012
Tawera Nikau
MARK TAYLOR/Fairfax NZ
FINED: Tawera Nikau after a court appearance.

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Rugby league great Tawera Nikau will likely find out by Christmas whether an appeal against his conviction for assaulting his daughter is successful.

Nikau, 45, appeared in the Hamilton High Court yesterday to appeal his male assaults female conviction, which he was found guilty of in July.

After hearing submissions from Nikau's lawyer Gary Gotlieb and Crown prosecutor Rebecca Mann, Justice Edwin Wylie reserved his decision on the case.

Mr Gotlieb argued that Nikau acted in self-defence when his daughter lashed out at him, but Ms Mann claimed that the threshold for assault had been met and there needed to be consequences for that.

Justice Wylie said he wanted to watch a DVD of a police interview Nikau gave following the alleged assault before giving his ruling.

He said a decision would likely be made before Christmas.

The case stemmed from an incident on February 24, in which Nikau and his daughter Heaven-Leigh clashed outside Huntly police station.

During the dispute Nikau allegedly grabbed her by the throat, causing her to fall to the ground.

It is understood there was hostility between the pair because Nikau and his wife, Hayley, had been pursuing legal options to take custody of Heaven-Leigh's two young children.

Mr Gotlieb yesterday said Nikau put out his arm to hold her back with an open hand on the chest and neck area.

"He's a very strong man holding off someone," he said.

"If he wanted to hurt her . . . he's an incredibly strong man."

Nikau pleaded not guilty to a charge of male assaults female in Huntly District Court on March 13, but was found guilty in June.

He fought to be discharged without conviction, but was denied and ordered to pay $250 in reparation to his daughter and $132.89 in court costs on July 9.

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- Waikato Times

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