Jailed league star Packer segregation for safety

CHRIS BARCLAY
Last updated 05:00 02/02/2014
Russell Packer
Fairfax Australia
OUTSIDE COURT: Russell Packer arrives at court in Sydney in December for a hearing in the assault case.

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Former NZ Warriors and Kiwis prop Russell Packer was kept in segregation after being jailed in Australia over fears for his safety, his new lawyer says.

Packer gave evidence at his unsuccessful bail hearing at a Sydney court on Thursday that New South Wales Corrective Services staff were concerned he would be targeted by inmates because he was a high-profile NRL footballer.

"Russell gave evidence that he was segregated because corrective services were concerned that he was at risk of physical harm due to him being a well-known football player," Sydney barrister George Thomas told Sunday News.

"He was segregated for about two weeks when he first went in and has since been moved to another facility where he is no longer in segregation."

The 24-year-old father-of-two was jailed on January 6 for two years after pleading guilty to assaulting expat New Zealander Enoka Time in the Sydney CBD last November.

But Thomas indicated Packer may file an application seeking leave to withdraw the guilty plea to the charge of assault occasioning bodily harm.

Packer's appeal against the severity of the sentence is scheduled for February 11.

He was unsuccessful in his bail application despite offering to pay a $A150,000 (NZ$162,323) bond.

During the hearing he admitted long-term issues with alcohol.

The two-test Kiwi, who played 110 games for the Warriors before joining the Knights at the end of last season, faces an anxious wait to see if the two-year sentence is reduced.

If Packer serves 12 months he will be deported to New Zealand after his release - an obstacle to him resuming his NRL career.

The Newcastle Knights terminated their four-year-contract with Packer after he was jailed.

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