Tawera Nikau appeals assault conviction

By James Ihaka

Former rugby league great Tawera Nikau will have to wait at least another week before finding out whether his appeal against an assault conviction and sentence is successful.

Nikau, 45, appeared at the High Court at Hamilton yesterday with his lawyer Gary Gotlieb to appeal his conviction after he was found guilty of male assaults female in July.

The conviction relates to an incident in February where Nikau was found guilty of grabbing his estranged daughter Heaven-Leigh by the throat outside the Huntly police station.

Justice Edwin Wylie listened to submissions from Crown prosecutor Rebecca Mann and Mr Gotlieb who still protests that Nikau acted only in self-defence and should have his conviction dismissed.

Justice Wylie said he would consider a police transcript of evidence before making a decision. He said a decision would likely be made "prior to Christmas".

Nikau was sentenced in July and fined $250 after he was found guilty of grabbing his estranged daughter Heaven-Leigh by the throat outside the Huntly police station on Ferbuary 24.

Heaven-Leigh said her dad was "angry and hyped" as he grabbed her tightly by the throat and dragged her on to the footpath.

The court earlier heard she tried to push him away and after several seconds he let her go.

Mr Gotlieb had asked for a discharge without conviction as Nikau had done "volumes" for the Huntly community.

But his request was opposed by his daughter and the judge, who said there had to be consequences for his actions. The judge ordered Nikau to pay $250 in reparation in the next 21 days, and $132.89 court costs.

Nikau told media earlier this year that he feared for the safety of his granchildren aged 6 and 4.

Both children, who are now living with their father in Melbourne, had been in the long-term care of grandparents and extended family until Heaven-Leigh picked them up the week before the incident and refused to hand them back.

- Hamilton News

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