NRL player Manase Fainu found guilty of stabbing at church dance

Manly Sea Eagles hooker Manase Fainu has been found guilty of stabbing a church youth leader in a brawl outside a Sydney church dance.

The 24-year-old pleaded not guilty to wounding Faamanu Levi with intent to cause grievous bodily harm at Wattle Grove late at night on October 25, 2019.

In his evidence to the District Court jury, Fainu denied being the stabber, saying when he heard “knife, knife” he ran away scared for his own safety.

But the jurors took just over two hours to return a guilty verdict on Thursday.

Three years ago Fainu, 24, was considered one of the NRL’s rising stars, but his career is almost certainly over.

In a stunning fall from grace, a jury last week found him guilty of one count of wounding a person with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

A jury took just two hours to find Fainu guilty of plunging a steak knife into the back of Faamanu Levi at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at Wattle Grove in October, 2019.

Following the verdict last week, Crown prosecutor Emma Curran made an immediate detention application, however it was not able to be heard by District Court Judge Nanette Williams until Monday.

Fainu’s barrister, Margaret Cunneen SC, on Monday morning fought the move for him to be immediately sent to jail while he awaits sentencing, arguing he needed time to prepare financially and mentally.

Under the state’s new bail laws, a defendant who is facing inevitable fulltime imprisonment must demonstrate “special or exceptional circumstances” to remain on bail while they await sentencing.

And Judge Williams said she was not satisfied that had been demonstrated by Fainu.

Fainu, wearing a grey suit and blue and white tie, was placed in handcuffs by sheriffs, hugged Ms Cunneen and waved to family members as he was led away.

But his solicitor Paul McGirr said the “wheels are in motion” in preparing an appeal.