The America's Cup sailor who walked free after bashing an Auckland taxi driver has been sent home in disgrace by his own syndicate. The man was put on a plane home last Friday, the day after he appeared in the Auckland District Court, according to his lawyer, Lester Cordwell. The sailor's employers were deeply disappointed with what had happened, Mr Cordwell said yesterday. "The syndicate is now reviewing his position and it clearly is not secure at the present time."

The sailor, aged in his 20s, pleaded guilty to assault and unlawfully taking a taxi. Judge Chris Field discharged him without conviction after hearing submissions that his position in the cup syndicate would not be secure if he had a criminal record. Mr Cordwell said he would lodge an appeal in the High Court today against Judge Field's refusal to permanently suppress the names of the sailor and his syndicate.

The Minister of Immigration, Tuariki Delamere, said yesterday that he would not allow the man back into the country. He had withdrawn his visa and work permit. The sailor was a "thug" and the decision to discharge him without conviction was outrageous. "I'm shocked and very disappointed at the Judiciary." The Attorney-General, Doug Graham, later said he "very much regretted" Mr Delamere's televised criticism of the Judiciary.