Manly Sea Eagles hooker Manase Fainu has lost his freedom four days after a jury found him guilty of stabbing a church leader outside a Mormon charity event in October 2019.
On Monday, Judge Nanette Williams granted a detention application by crown prosecutors, rejecting a bid by Fainu to remain out on bail until a sentence hearing on October 7.
Defence barrister Margaret Cunneen SC argued that the 24-year-old should temporarily retain his freedom for reasons including the mental health impacts of the trial, his desire to financially support his family and the significant media attention of the case.
However, the judge found these did not amount to circumstances that were special or exceptional enough to prevent incarceration in a situation where jail time was all but confirmed.
“I’m not satisfied that special or exceptional circumstances exist to refuse or dismiss the detention application,” Judge Williams said.
Last week, the once rising NRL star was found guilty of stabbing church youth leader Faamanu Levi in a brawl outside a dance in Wattle Grove, Sydney late at night on October 25, 2019.
He pleaded not guilty to wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm in the attack, but the jury took just two hours to deliver its guilty verdict.
In arguing for Fainu’s release, Ms Cunneen told the court her client had experienced severe mental illness including depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts because of the trial and verdict.
She said he had been considered a highly promising rugby league player who was on track to earn a massive salary to support his parents and eight siblings.
Thanks to the National Rugby League’s no fault stand down policy, this was all stripped away once he was charged and arrested, the court heard.
“This is a man who has suffered a most enormous downfall, an unthinkable downfall in what he may have expected in 2019,” Ms Cunneen said.
“This is a case of a young man whose life changed forever over a spontaneous, foolish, terrible thing that happened without premeditation.”
Fainu’s counsellor Jan Earl of Elite Athlete Wellbeing Services spoke of the footballer’s decline in mental health after losing not only his spot on the Manly team but also his role as family breadwinner.
Ms Earl pointed to the no fault stand down policy as being partially responsible for this.
“You are shunned like a black cat. There is no money, there is no assistance and this caused great distress to Manese and his family,” she said.
Ms Cunneen argued that the significant media attention to the case had prevented her client from seeking psychiatric help in public settings where he could be recognised.
“It’s not fun we would submit. It’s horrible. He’s not a showy, flashy man. He’s a humble man… And it’s made it immeasurably harder.”
The court also heard that Fainu had not once breached the onerous bail conditions placed on him, including a curfew and limitations on who he could go outside with.
He felt great shame and remorse over what had occurred and required time to work as a labourer to financially support his family and help pay his legal bills, the judge was told.
In granting the detention application, Judge Williams found Fainu had been reluctant to seek psychiatric help or stick to the medication prescribed. She also found he could still get this assistance while in prison.
The judge also found Fainu had plenty of time to prepare mentally and financially since being charged in 2019.