Two New Zealand-born rugby league players have been convicted of a vicious assault on an elderly pizza delivery man on the Gold Coast who had a heart attack on the way to hospital.
Isaac Hekenui, a former Wests Tigers junior, and Jake Galvin were convicted of assaulting 77-year-old Arthur Taylor when the case concluded in the Southport District Court this week.
Galvin's contract with the Penrith Panthers was terminated today - the 18-year-old second rower occasionally played for the club's Toyota Cup squad this season and had a year to run on his deal.
Mr Taylor was ambushed by the duo after taking four pizzas to a Gold Coast address on the night of the third State of Origin clash between Queensland and NSW on July 6 last year.
"Next thing I knew I felt a horrendous bang - it was as if I'd hit a brick wall," Mr Taylor said in a report on the Gold Coast Bulletin website.
"I woke up 15 minutes later feeling nauseous and realised my phone, my cash, my watch were all there, but the pizza box was gone."
A single blow to the face by Hekenui knocked Mr Taylor unconscious and damaged his jaw forcing Mr Taylor to live on a liquids only diet for a month - but first he had to recover from a cardiac arrest he suffered while being ferried to hospital.
The teenagers, who ate the pizzas while watching the game, both pleaded guilty - Galvin was extremely remorseful according to his lawyers and had attempted to apologise to Mr Taylor, who quit his job because he was fearful of going out after dark.
"For $51.80 of pizza they could have killed me," he said.
Hekenui, who was already remanded in custody, also pleaded guilty in court to two separate violent robberies in 2011 - bashing a Gold Coast taxi driver in a Gold Coast toilet block on July 2 last year and the random beating of a 16-year-old girl on July 29 as she walked home from a party.
He was given three five-year sentences to be served concurrently and is eligible for parole in April next year.
Galvin received a 12-month sentence, suspended for two years.
Four months ago Galvin proudly showed off the Panthers' homestay arrangement for otential stars run by former Kiwi Mark Horo and his wife Millie - now he will be forced to pack up and move back to family in Queensland.
Galvin joined the Panthers after the incident and although his conduct at the club had been excellent he was released without hesitation.
"Jake's behaviour and work ethic since arriving at the Panthers had been nothing short of exemplary and we wish Jake all the best with his future ndeavours," a statement said.
Galvin's demise came a day after the Panthers teamed up with Penrith police to promote the mentoring programme 'Operation Enough' - an initiative to target alcohol-related crime and anti-social behaviour on Friday and Saturday nights in western Sydney.
- Fairfax Media
Who is your pick for international league player of the year?Related story: (See story)