Tawera Nikau set to appeal conviction

JONATHAN CARSON
Last updated 05:00 10/07/2012
Tawera Nikau
MARK TAYLOR/Fairfax NZ
FINED: Tawera Nikau after his court appearance.

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Rugby league great Tawera Nikau has been convicted for assaulting his estranged daughter but his lawyer has appealed against the decision.

Nikau's application to be discharged without conviction was denied in Hamilton District Court yesterday morning and he was ordered to pay $250 in reparation to his daughter and $132.89 in court costs.

Judge Peter Spiller handed down the decision after taking into account the seriousness of the offending and the consequences a conviction would have on Nikau and his family. "This is not simply an assault, it's a conviction for male assaults female," he said. "I find that there has to be a conviction."

However, outside the courthouse yesterday, Nikau's lawyer Gary Gotlieb said he had filed an appeal against the sentence and conviction.

The case stemmed from an incident on February 24, in which Nikau, 45, and his daughter Heaven-Leigh clashed outside Huntly police station. In a heated dispute, Nikau grabbed her by the neck, forcing her to fall to the ground.

It is understood there was animosity 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 argued that the gravity of the offending was at the "lower end of the scale". "He's a huge, strong man," he said. "If he tried to be violent, he would have pushed her off her feet."

He said he was "struggling to find someone more deserving" of a discharge without conviction and that Nikau was prepared to apologise to his daughter.

However, police and Heaven-Leigh "strongly opposed" a discharge.

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

He had previously claimed he put his arm out in self-defence after his daughter lashed out at him. It is understood Nikau and his daughter no longer have a relationship.

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- Waikato Times

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