NRL young gun Manase Fainu has been jailed as he awaits sentencing over the stabbing of a Mormon church youth leader during a wild and bloody brawl.
A jury took just two hours to find Fainu guilty of plunging a steak knife into the back of Faamanu Levi at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at Wattle Grove in October, 2019.
The Crown prosecution made a detention application for Fainu to be sent to prison after he was found guilty of one count of wounding a person with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, which carries a maximum sentence of 25 years.
Defense barrister Margaret Cunneen SC previously flagged to the court the verdict would be appealed.
Judge Nanette Williams on Monday morning ordered the Manly Sea Eagles hooker to be taken into custody ahead of a sentence hearing later in the year.
During his trial, the court heard that one man Tony Quach had seen Fainu stab Mr Levi in the back near his right shoulder blade during a late-night brawl in the church’s parking lot between two parked cars.
Another man, Kupi Toilalo, told the jury that he saw a man approach him and his friends with his left arm in a sling holding a knife.
It was not in dispute Fainu had undergone shoulder surgery a month earlier and had his arm in the sling at the time.
Fainu has been stood down from the NRL since the incident and has not played the last three seasons.
During the trial he denied playing any part in the stabbing or the brawl, claiming he stood back 10m because he was scared.
He said he began back-pedaling because he feared for his safety when he heard someone yell “knife, knife”.
Ms Cunneen told the court on Monday Fainu should be able to remain on bail after he had suffered an “enormous” and “unthinkable downfall”.
She said he needed time to adjust mentally and prepare financially for when he will be sentenced at a later date.
Ms Cunneen also tended to a character reference from Manly coach Des Hasler, who watched proceedings via audio visual link.
“This young man, Mr Fainu, had the promise of a most extraordinary football career ahead of him and that has been smashed,” Ms Cunnen said.
“Everyone would be entitled to say through his own fault he lost that.
“The necessary punishment the court must impose will also bring about the most extraordinary extra-curial punishment, that is the end of what had promised to be an extraordinary, exceptional stellar career in what Mr Hasler has described as the hardest game in the world. ”
The court heard he had previously battled prescription drug addiction and entered into rehabilitation.
His counselor Jan Earl told the court on Monday that Fainu had suffered a mental episode over the weekend, which involved him shaking uncontrollably, was being monitored by a mental health team and had to be prescribed anti-anxiety medication.
Ms Earl said that Fainu was feeling “great shame and remorse” and suffering depression, intrusive thoughts and suicidal ideation.
Ms Cunneen said that two of Fainu’s brothers, who were contracted to Manly, had paid his legal fees after the club advanced them money from their 2023 contracts
She argued he needed to make mental preparations to go into custody and ease the financial burden on his family, having been offered work as a laborer.
However Crown prosecutor Emma Curran said none of that amounted to special or exceptional circumstances.
During Fainu’s trial, the court heard that prior to the brawl, two of his friends – including Uona “Big Buck” Faingaa – were involved in an altercation on the church dance floor and escorted out.
Fainu told the jury he went to church dance with four of his friends because Mr Faingaa was seeking to collect money owed to him by a man for a concreting job.
He said he left the church grounds as his mates were being escorted out and apologized to a security guard for his friends’ behavior as he exited.
CCTV played to the jury showed Fainu, with his arm in a sling, jump the fence from an adjoining Coles car park back into the church grounds shortly before the brawl.
Fainu testified that he had told his friends that he would go inside to collect Mr Faingaa’s money by himself, however they followed him over.
Fainu told Ms Curran during his evidence he jumped the fence despite admitting that he could have walked back in the front gate.
More to eat.