The trial of Manase Fainu is nearing its conclusion, with the former Manly hooker found guilty of stabbing Mormon youth leader Faamanu Levi during a brawl in a church carpark in 2019.
Levi’s lung was punctured in the incident, which descended into a bloody brawl outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Wattle Grove in south-western Sydney.
Fainu pleaded not guilty to the charge of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm – but the Sydney Morning Herald reports that after just two hours of deliberation the jury returned to deliver a unanimous verdict. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.
His lawyer has already confirmed Fainu and his team will appeal the decision.
The crown made an application to detain Fainu, which was opposed by his lawyer who argued that it was impossible to see him breaching any bail conditions.
When Fainu took the stand he claimed that while he had initially jumped a fence to gain access to the carpark, he had been a distance away from the brawl after backing away, eventually retreating when he heard someone yell ‘knife, knife’.
He said he did not know who committed the stabbing.
While Levi confirmed that he could not see who stabbed him, his housemate Tony Quach said he saw Fainu holding a steak knife and looking “angry” while wearing a sling he was required to don following shoulder surgery.
Another witness claimed that the person with the knife was wearing a sling. While Fainu’s lawyer agreed it was a ‘distinguishing feature’, there was no other DNA on it.
Fainu has passed Jack de Belin as the player stood down the longest under the no-fault stand-down policy.
The policy has come under fire in recent weeks given the low overall conviction rate of players who are subject to it. The policy recently prevented former Bulldog Michael Lichaa returning to park footy, stopped by the NSWRL who have a similar policy in place.
It remains to be seen what this decision will do to the future of the policy, but Fainu is now unlikely to ever return to the NRL.