Penrith Panthers NRL player Tyrell Fuimaono has escaped conviction after admitting he hindered police officers who were trying to arrest his cousin outside a Sydney nightclub.
NSW Police have conceded the former Rabbitoh ‘acted in good faith’ when trying to keep his 18-year-old cousin, Duwanye Mariner, out of trouble after police started arresting those involved in a large brawl on Oxford Street in October 2018.
Fuimaono, who wasn’t involved in the Surry Hills brawl, was forced to the ground and placed in a headlock by an arresting officer.
Downing Centre Local Court magistrate Carolyn Huntsman said that interfering with police officers doing their job was serious even if Fuimaono was intending to help.
‘I accept this was an out-of-character situation for you but I must also deter others,’ she said on Tuesday as she placed Fuimaono on a one-year good behaviour bond.
‘If there had been a link between your offence and what was occurring, you would not be appropriate to (be given) any leniency.’
Fuimaono originally pleaded not guilty but changed his plea on Tuesday after police withdrew a more serious charge of resisting police.
According to the agreed facts, Fuimaono physically restrained his cousin who had interfered with officers arresting Mariner’s brother.
The 98-kilogram NRL second-rower was ordered to let go before he was ‘forcefully’ separated, pushed to the ground, put in a headlock and handcuffed.
Ms Huntsman said his playing career didn’t influence her decision.
She noted Fuimaono had spent years volunteering, including in domestic violence and alcohol programs, and by coaching a girls’ rugby league team.
‘It is your significant and long commitment to working for others in the community … that has seen rehabilitation given a focus in sentencing and no conviction being recorded,’ she said.
The 23-year-old – whose most recent contract was worth $150,000 – has played seven games for the Panthers this season after 19 appearances for South Sydney.