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Rugby star left without record for street attack

RUGBY star Alesana Tuilagi has been left without a criminal record after admitting he injured a man with a single punch in a row outside a Dublin nightclub.

Tuilagi (33) struck the victim in the face on a city street in a drunken "lapse of judgment" while he and his Leicester team-mates were out after a match at the Aviva Stadium three years ago.

They had lost the Heineken Cup quarter-final to Leinster and the two teams were socialising together before the incident happened, Dublin District Court heard.

settlement

Judge Anthony Halpin struck out an assault charge after hearing Tuilagi had already paid "significant" compensation to the victim in the settlement of a civil action.

Tuilagi, a father of two, pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to Conall McLoughlin at Harcourt Street on April 10, 2011.

The Samoan international plays for the Newcastle Falcons in the Aviva Premiership in England but was with the Leicester Tigers at the time of the assault.

Det Insp Anthony Howard said that on the night an altercation took place and the accused struck the victim, who suffered minor injuries.

Tuilagi had no previous convictions and had cooperated fully with gardai. He returned to Ireland by arrangement last August to be charged.

Defence solicitor Peter Connolly asked Det Insp Howard if the accused had made a good impression.

"I would have no hesitation in stating he was a gentleman," he replied.

Tuilagi "wouldn't during the season drink to any appreciable extent", Mr Connolly said.

The defendant sincerely regretted hitting the victim, had taken full responsibility and the incident was "out of character".

Tuilagi was coming into the twilight of his rugby playing career but hoped to go into coaching later.

lapse

"It was a pent-up lapse of judgment, unfortunately while he was intoxicated," Mr Connolly said.

He asked the judge to leave Tuilagi without a blemish on his record.

Judge Halpin said the accused was a professional rugby player and bodily harm was "itself an acceptable consequence of engaging in that sport".

"Somebody of the accused's nature has to be cautious and careful to avoid such situations of confrontation and aggression because they can be prone to overstepping the mark, even unintentionally," the judge added.

Dressed in a blue sweater, blue and white checked shirt and tan trousers, Tuilagi did not address the court.

hnews@herald.ie


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