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Filipo non-convicton was right: lawyer

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 25/10/2016

While Filipo was discharged without conviction, he was sentenced to carry out 150 hours community work and to pay $1000 reparation. © Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images While Filipo was discharged without conviction, he was sentenced to carry out 150 hours community work and to pay $1000 reparation. The judge who discharged promising Wellington rugby player Losi Filipo without conviction after an assault on four people last October made the "correct and compassionate decision", his lawyer has argued.

Police are seeking to appeal the sentence handed down to the 18-year-old, arguing the court did not take into account the gravity of the offending and put too much weight on the impact a conviction would have on Filipo's professional sporting career.

Filipo did not attend the appeal hearing in the High Court at Wellington on Wednesday where his lawyer Noel Sainsbury said Filipo came from a "severely disadvantaged background" and to convict him would have returned him to "the dire prospects he had growing up".

But Sally Carter, acting for the police, says the court did not give enough consideration to the seriousness of the offending against the victims, two women and two men.

One of the men, the court heard, had been knocked unconscious and suffered a concussion that meant he was unable to work for six months or play rugby at all.

Ms Carter argued the starting point for sentencing should have been a prison term of three to three and a half years behind bars.

The original sentence, handed down in August, caused public outcry when it became public last month and the media attention prompted an investigation by the Solicitor-General.

The case led to Filipo being withdrawn from the Wellington squad and the mutually agreed termination of his contract.

Justice David Collins is considering whether the appeal should be granted. If so, the appeal is expected to also be heard on Wednesday.

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