Rugby player jailed for sexual assault

Kolinio Yabia Tamanitoakula. Photo: SUPPLIED.

A Mid-Canterbury rugby player was today jailed for more than three years for sexually assaulting a woman in Gisborne.

Kolinio Yabia Tamanitoakula, 25, a Fijian national from Ashburton, was jailed for three years, four months and two weeks, after previously pleading guilty to assault with intent to rape.

Defence counsel Leighvi Maynard told the Gisborne District Court Tamanitoakula had only been in New Zealand a short time before assaulting the woman on October 2, after a representative rugby match in Ruatoria.

He had previously been of good character and had no criminal convictions in Fiji.

He accepted he had caused considerable pain and distress for the victim and her family, and accepted that his actions had been “indefensible”, Maynard said.

His client had only been in New Zealand a short time. He was not used to drinking alcohol but was intoxicated in the company of team mates

“It is no exaggeration to say that his actions were utterly out of character for him.”

Crown prosecutor Jo Rielly said Tamanitoakula’s level of intoxication was “no excuse” for committing a “significant offence” that would have “ongoing consequences” for him and his victim.

The victim had been walking alone in the Gisborne CBD on the night of October 12. Tamanitoakula had been walking with a group of associates who had been “yelling and whistling” at the woman as she walked in front of them.

Tamanitoakula followed her alone, and called out to her but she ignored him. As she crossed the Peel St bridge he grabbed her by the arms and pushed her down a flight of steps into Kelvin Park.

He then forced her to the ground and kissed her. He pulled down her trousers and tried to rape her. The victim was then able to get away when a passing car distracted Tamanitoakula.

Judge Warren Cathcart said the victim regularly walked past the site of the attack and had to relive the “horrendous event”, which continued to have a “devastating effect” on her.

– Gisborne Herald