Jerry Collins released from Japanese jail

Jerry Collins at a press conference in 2008. Photo / NZ Herald/File photo
Jerry Collins at a press conference in 2008. Photo / NZ Herald/File photo

Jerry Collins is glad to be out of prison in Japan and has his "famous" smile back, says the former All Black's lawyer and manager Tim Castle.

"He is a study of relief, and the smile is the famous Jerry Collins smile. And he's relaxing in his home in Hamamatsu, not far from Yamaha headquarters, and he's in a good space," Castle told Radio New Zealand.

Collins will return to New Zealand after agreeing to pay a $1900 fine before his release from custody in the industrial city of Hamamatsu at 3pm yesterday Japan time (7pm NZT).

The 32-year-old had been in custody since the evening of Sunday, March 17, following his arrest at a city department store for carrying two knives.

Mr Castle said the incident appeared to be "highly dramatic" when it first made the news, but it had been put into context and would be dealt with accordingly.

Collins had paid the fine because he accepted he had breached local regulations on carrying knives, he said.

But it was not a serious breach, and the size of the fine recognised his possession of the knives was "not accompanied by any sinister intent or intimidating purpose".

"And nobody was threatened or frightened."

Mr Castle said the circumstances with the Brazilian gang had played a part in Collins' release.

"All that information of course was provided to the police, there's been a thorough investigation."

Mr Castle said his client would love to play rugby again.

"He's still in the prime of his fitness."

Arrangements for Collins' return to New Zealand were still being made.

Collins' father Frankie Collins last night told the Herald his son would return to New Zealand but was yet to speak to him to confirm details.

"He's going to be arriving in New Zealand (his) lawyer said, and that's what we are waiting for, him to get home," he said.

He looked forward to speaking with his son and was relieved to hear of his release.

"I am, I'm very very happy."

Mr Collins was in the dark about what had gone on in Japan.

"We just have to find out the real story or what was happening. At the moment I don't know what has been happening."

Frankie Collins had heard media reports of his son's fears that a gang of Brazilians were targeting him but didn't know what to make of it until he had spoken with his son.

Collins, 32, told TV3's John Campbell this week that he had a "misunderstanding" with a gang in Japan.

He believed he was being followed on the day of the incident, resulting in his walking behind a counter at the upmarket store and taking out a knife in front of frightened staff. Collins said he believed he wouldn't be attacked around so many people.

Rumours he was on drugs were not true and all tests had come back negative. He said he was treated "very kindly and very generously" in prison.

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman confirmed the consul from the New Zealand Embassy in Tokyo had been involved in Collins' case over the past week.

He could not comment on whether Collins would have to leave Japan as part of his release.

* Read the Herald's live news blog here.

- APNZ

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