Steve Sanary Holani-Latu.
Steve Sanary Holani-Latu.

Footy player's brutal assault leaves imprint on face

IN BEASTLY blows, Steve Sanary Holani-Latu punched the woman he calls his 'wife' five times to her face then stomped her face so hard it left a bruised shoe imprint.

The powerfully built rugby league player appeared in custody before the District Court at Bundaberg to plead guilty to assault causing bodily harm to the woman at beachside Bargara on May 31; contravening a domestic violence protection order on May 27; and contravening a domestic violence protection order on May 31.

Holani-Latu, in a letter to the court, blamed himself for the assaults committed when he was drinking alcohol.

Crown prosecutor Christopher Cook said his criminal history includes domestic violence offences committed in NSW in 2012.

Mr Cook said that at the time of the Bargara offences, Holani-Latu was on probation for a significant high-range drink driving offence, and driving when disqualified.

"He presents as someone with an alcohol problem," Mr Cook said.

Holani-Latu has been held in custody for six months since the violent offences.

The Crown tended photographs of the woman's facial injuries as evidence before Judge Anthony Rafter SC.

"Significant violence was inflicted upon her," Mr Cook said. "The first photo was taken by her friend on the night. The others were taken by police after she was released from hospital."

Mr Cook said photos show the imprint of his shoe by way of bruising on her face.

"She was grabbed and punched at least five times. He stomped on her face leaving that shoe impression," Mr Cook said.

"The injuries were not insignificant, including fractures."

Mr Cook said Holani-Latu had not initially been remorseful when police came to his door by trying to lay a false trail, "a false story of why blood was around the house, saying it was from a nose bleed".

In response to queries from Judge Rafter, Mr Cook said the woman did not make statements to police but told a friend and been recorded at the scene by police saying certain things.

Judge Rafter noted she had advised police she did not wish to proceed with an assault complaint - "that is not an uncommon feature in these sort of offences, part of the cycle of violence".

Defence barrister Peter Richards said Holani-Latu admits alcohol is the problem he has that led to his offending.

He said Holani-Latu had received a scholarship from the Cronulla Rugby League Club and had somewhat of a rugby league career.

While in jail he had been working in a laundry, doing courses and attending Bible studies.

Mr Richards said Holani-Latu wrote a letter to the court indicating his remorse, and although he refers to the woman as his "wife" they were not married but been in a de facto relationship.

Judge Rafter accepted there was no violence in the first incident on May 27 with police called by neighbours who heard yelling and screaming, with Holani-Latu calling the woman vulgar names.

Saying it was part of the unfortunate cycle of DV when victims were reluctant to press charges, Judge Rafter sentenced Holani-Latu to two years' jail - to be released to parole on January 30 after serving eight months.

The protection order was varied to continue until January 2019.



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