WelCom June/July 2022
A Marist St Pat’s rugby player who was charged over his violent behaviour in an on-field brawl has been forgiven by his victim.
The incident happened in a Rugby Seven’s series match at Upper Hutt’s Maidstone Park on November 14, 2020. A fight broke out and in the midst of a brawl with both players throwing punches, Sevens player Ridge Studd, a Petone rugby club member, was punched in the face by Iosefo Aukusitino, and knocked to the ground with a serious injury.
At a Wellington District Court hearing in May, a statement from Studd said he had not only forgiven 23-year-old Iosefo Aukusitino, but he asked the judge to not hold it against the young father-to-be.
‘I forgave you months ago, I hold no hate, no anger, it was all unlucky,’ his statement said. Judge Mike Mika responded by discharging the Marist St Pat’s player without conviction.
No conviction, no fines, no reparation, go and be a good father.”Victim’s father
In court, Studd’s family showed compassion in asking that Aukusitino face no legal repercussions following a successful and healing restorative justice session that took place in March.
‘No conviction, no fines, no reparation, go and be a good father,’ Studd’s Dad told Aukusitino, who is expecting his first child this year.
Judge Mika acknowledged the impact the restorative justice process had had for both families.
‘I found the report to be one of a very positive, genuine and healing conference for not only you and your ‘aiga [family] that are present but for the victim and his whānau.’
Aukusitino pleaded guilty to one charge of wounding with reckless disregard in December and has since done significant work in his community, on his anger management, and towards healing his relationship with the victim and their family.
Marist St Pat’s RFC Chairman Rob Evans said the restorative justice process had been very successful.
‘At a time in society when it is very simple for a “hard on crime” approach to be adopted, the victim’s family need to be acknowledged for being so willing to become engaged. They are to be congratulated for seeing that a more positive outcome – although a longer journey – is for the defendant to display genuine remorse.
‘In every respect, the complainant has forgiven the defendant who apologised profusely, genuinely and deeply to the complainant and his family. And the defendant completed all of the 55 hours of community service that was required of him. He has shown genuine remorse. There are so many positive aspects in the defendant’s character, personality, discipline and strength.
Rob Evans said he agreed with the presiding judge’s comments that unwelcome consequences would be far greater if a conviction had occurred.
The incoming president of Marist St Pats RFC, John Holden, attended the sentencing on 13 May, and said, ‘I endorse Rob’s comments.’