A promising young league player who bashed a man in central Wellington, leaving him brain damaged, has been sentenced to nine years in prison.
Ioritana Tuau, 22, repeatedly kicked and stomped on the head of Kapiti man Robert Bryden, then 25, after a brief confrontation in the early hours of September 15, 2011.
Tuau pleaded guilty in February to a charge of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
The attack took place after Mr Bryden and two friends asked if Tuau and a woman he was arguing with on Courtenay Place needed help.
When Tuau replied they did not, Mr Bryden punched Tuau in the face, knocking him to the ground, and continued walking.
Tuau and two friends gave chase and cornered Mr Bryden alone on Tory St.
He punched Mr Bryden to the ground before repeatedly kicking and stomping on his head against a concrete barrier.
The attack continued after Mr Bryden lost consciousness and stopped only when a member of the public intervened.
Mr Bryden was taken to hospital in a critical condition and was on a ventilator for a number of days. He was expected to remain in a brain injury rehabilitation unit for one to two years.
Tuau handed himself in five days after the assault, telling police he did not recall what happened as he had been drinking heavily and had blacked out just prior to the incident.
In the High Court at Wellington today, Justice Forrest Miller sentenced Tuau to nine years, with a minimum non-parole period of four-and-a-half years.
Tuau played league for the Penrith Panthers in Australia's under 20-competition for two years before joining the Te Aroha Eels in Lower Hutt in 2011.