Rugby player ordered to pay $10,000 after brawl

IN COURT: Joel Hintz who was ordered to pay $10,000 after injuring a man at a student party.

A promising Canterbury rugby player and former weightlifting world champion has been ordered to pay a student $10,000 after a brawl.

Joel Nikoli Hintz, 21, pleaded guilty to a charge of injuring by unlawful act when he appeared before the Dunedin District Court yesterday.

In August, the big front-rower was named in the Canterbury squad which successfully defended the Ranfurly Shield in two pre-season games against Wanganui and Mid-Canterbury.

He played for the champion Hawkins Trophy Lincoln University side.

But hanging over him during those matches was the prospect of a conviction that could limit his future sporting endeavours.

On April 4, Hintz and friends went to Dunedin as part of their course at Lincoln University.

They were socialising at a student party in Queen St. The defendant saw two men wrestling in the backyard of the property.

‘’Without warning he punched the victim once in the mouth with a closed fist,’’ a police summary said.

Counsel Anne Stevens said her client had not attacked the man completely out of the blue, as court documents suggested.

‘’He genuinely thought he was helping someone, but he misread the situation,’’ she said.

Hintz told police he thought the men were fighting, and as he tried to separate them, the victim threw a punch at him to which he reacted.

However, the injured man denied that was the case.

The victim – an Australian man who was in the country studying, and also played rugby – suffered damage to an incisor tooth, which caused the tooth to die.

He required a titanium implant and a false tooth to be fitted, Sergeant Chris George said.

The estimated cost of the dental work was $12,000.

The figure surprised Mrs Stevens, who had previously been informed of a smaller sum.

A final cost would only be known in March next year, the court heard.

Judge John Macdonald first indicated the sentencing should be adjourned for the issue to be clarified but was later persuaded to continue.

Mrs Stevens said Hintz had $5000 available for the victim but could borrow more.

He would suffer significantly with a conviction on his record, she said, through the inevitable hurdles it would place for overseas travel.

As well as rugby, Hintz had also tasted success in weightlifting when he went to the world championships in Johannesburg in 2014 as a teenager.

He blitzed the competition and set a record in his weight class, according to reports at the time.

Judge Macdonald acknowledged the defendant was ‘’a man of promise’’ and the conviction was the first blemish on his record.

Hintz was ordered to pay the victim $10,000 (half now, half in a month) as well as court costs of $130.

– Otago Daily Times

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