Raging over Losi Filipo

Losi Filipo was lucky to escape conviction for a brutal assault on four people.

Losi Filipo was unlucky to escape conviction for a brutal assault on four people because the furore that has erupted as a result has put a disproportional degree of publicity on what happened.

Late yesterday Filipo ended his rugby contract with the Wellington Lions, presumably to try and dampen things down.

He was in a hopeless situation anyway as if he had played there would have been a huge media distraction.

His playing future must be in doubt, as it is likely that any sign of violence is likely to be highlighted and amplified.

While he escaped a conviction and sentence from the court his public sentence is probably disproportionately severe. A fine and some community service would have probably been easier on him.

There’s a lot of violent crime in New Zealand and most of it escapes much if any scrutiny, it is normal life in New Zealand.

So Filipo is suffering more than normal, and that is likely to continue for some time, especially if he tries to play high level rugby again.

In a way this may seem disproportionately unfair.

But the violence he inflicted on four people was also very unfair. Many many New Zealanders are unfairly affected by violence. Many have their lives wrecked by violence.

So while Filipo may be effectively suffering greater consequences than the average thug  greater good may be served by his public sentence.

It has raised public awareness of the insidious effects of violence in our society.

What needs to happen now is a much better response from New Zealand Rugby. Many rugby players and lovers will be dismayed that their sport keeps getting tainted by thuggery.

The Rugby Union has to stand up here and do far more to distance the sport from thuggish violence. It has to lead on dealing with it, not flail in response to a string of embarrassments.

Filipo’s rugby career may have been trashed – largely due to his own actions – and his sport has been trashed with it.

But NZRFU could use this to make a real stand against violence, if the so choose.

They and the media and the people of New Zealand can stop raging over violence and do something about reducing it.

32 Comments

  1. David

     /  September 28, 2016

    A deterrent is part of the justice system and for me the judge should have nailed him as a lesson to any budding anyone not to go around hitting people. The rugby union should have cancelled his contract straight away but had an option that if he was found not guilty a path to a new contract.
    Its a stain on rugby and the courts and the solicitor general should appeal it so its sets precedent that a sporting career is not a get out of jail free card.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  September 28, 2016

      I disagree. The judge’s role is to apply the law fairly and equitably to everyone commensurate with the crime, not to teach lessons or send messages. Whether he did so is a matter for sentencing experts to judge, not me.

      The culture, family and school that raised him should be reviewing their performance, not the rugby union.

      • David

         /  September 28, 2016

        The message I indicated that needs to be sent is that a potential sporting career is not a reason not to enter a conviction, its a message to judges that the law must be fair and equitable. Sentencing is a different kettle of fish.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  September 28, 2016

          If you remove the word “sporting” I would have more chance of agreeing with you. In practical terms entering a conviction, like determining name suppression, is part of sentencing.

      • Joe Bloggs

         /  September 28, 2016

        Alan, I’m curious to understand why you think that rugby union doesn’t need to navel-gaze over their performance

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  September 28, 2016

          The part they played was exactly what?

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  September 28, 2016

            I’ve read the Stuff article on the Paul Henry interview with Steve Tew and frankly I thought Tew just wimped out and should have given Henry a good bollocking for spouting crap.

          • Joe Bloggs

             /  September 29, 2016

            All I can say to that reply Alan is that I’m pleased that Rugby has finally found its moral compass and has apologised to the victims for their treatment at the hands of one of its employees.

            Perhaps there are some lessons for you in what “doing the right thing” means here, although I very much doubt that you will ever see them, let alone understand.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  September 29, 2016

              Fatuous. The attack happened when he was a schoolboy. How on earth is the NZRU supposed to be responsible for that? Idiotic almost beyond belief. Is his school apologising? His family? His community? They should be first in line shouldn’t they?

            • Joe Bloggs

               /  September 29, 2016

              Rugby is starting to get it. Alan doesn’t.

              Young people make mistakes, even serious ones (Filipo was 17 at the time of this attack), and most athletes, especially first-time offenders, deserve an eventual route back into their sport.

              Yet that is very different to turning a blind eye to violence, as rugby authorities have done here. Filipo stayed on his contract until this week. NZ Rugby’s Steve Tew has punted responsibility to Wellington. Wellington Rugby claims it barely even knew the details of the case.

              That is scarcely believable – the union gave the court information outlining the risks of a conviction. If it really didn’t bother to find out what happened, that was a dereliction of duty. If it did know, its bluster is more evidence of a closing of the ranks. The Dominion Post is a sponsor of the Wellington Lions and will be seeking an explanation from the union.

              After this case, and after the Chiefs scandal, rugby needs to ask itself some existential questions. The sport talks of its lack of tolerance for violence, and its respect for women, but the record speaks differently.

              Rugby isn’t responsible for every action of its players, but it is responsible for the culture that communicates that they are untouchable.

              It must change this. It must be prepared for such cases – with clear consequences to back up the nice talk. It should start with meaningful suspensions for those who commit violent crimes.

              http://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/opinion/84751600/editorial-rugby-still-doesnt-get-it

            • Pete Kane

               /  September 29, 2016

              I’m with Alan, too silly for words. Although having said that, plenty of older Kiwis will probably be feeling its Kama for the NZRFU’s (and maybe rugger culture in general) previous actions. Henry (Paul) really is the ultimate up thrust.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  September 29, 2016

              @Joe, journalist writing utter drivelling crap. What’s new?

              If it really didn’t bother to find out what happened, that was a dereliction of duty

              That’s why we have courts and trials and presumption of innocence. But who would expect a modern journalist to know that, let alone a Lefty.

            • Joe Bloggs

               /  September 29, 2016

              @Alan, what fatuous head-in-the-sand drivel you serve up. Rugby has copped out of its responsibilities. It’s acknowledged that, and the public’s acknowledged that.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  September 29, 2016

              Repeating crap doesn’t improve it, Joe. You haven’t answered anything that matters. Go to the bottom of the class.

            • Gezza

               /  September 29, 2016

              I’ve opened a packet of dark Maltesers to have a few while I think about whether it’s worth saying any more than this. I think the judge got it wrong not convicting and he has probably worked that out by now. Look at all the crap that’s happened since then.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  September 29, 2016

              The police are appealing so we will find out if he got it wrong eventually. Controversy over sentencing of 17-yr-olds is not new: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10443303

              For a first offender youth, judges are always going to find it a tough call between punishment and rehabilitation, especially given the tendency of jail to teach criminality and produce recidivism.

  2. He should move in to the judges house maybe they could learn off each other

    • duperez

       /  September 28, 2016

      The judge wouldn’t get a look in. He trusted the oversight of the care of the perpetrator to his employers. Public outcry said he should be cut free so Wellington Rugby did that. Those who called for him to be cut free would surely trample over the judge to have him move in with them.

      Now what could he learn off them that he wouldn’t off the judge?

  3. duperez

     /  September 28, 2016

    The biggest damage is to the victims of the attacks but the major stain is on the fabric of how we operate as a society when contentious issues happen. That stain is like some sort of ink right through the weave, right to the edges, right across the episode.

    It is characterised by rage and hysteria, the fierce desire to place blame, a sense of relish in having that blame apportioned and a great speed of jumping to conclusions and getting on the high horses. There is a reluctance to trust anyone’s word but our own, lack of true empathy, prejudice and the core element, lack of knowledge.

    Media giants with their own agendas ride the tsunami to spread the stain, propelling it with their own hues of ignorance.

    Out of something terrible, when we need reason and consideration we instead have madness.

    Many who have slated the frenzy of his attacks and lack of control have demonstrated those exact qualities in their response. The stain of his and their bloodlust will still be there when Losi Filopo’s name is long forgotten.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  September 28, 2016

      Well said, duperez. The media now throw petrol on the fire rather than act as the voice of reason. I suspect their audience have now self-selected accordingly.

  4. Chris

     /  September 28, 2016

    He will be able to go across the ditch and play rugby and maybe get selected for the Wallabies. At least then he will be wearing the appropriately coloured shirt.

  5. Gezza

     /  September 28, 2016

    The take home lesson from all this is probably that’s it just not always a good idea to bash people up.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  September 28, 2016

      Or what works in Samoa doesn’t work here.

      • Bill

         /  September 28, 2016

        This is indeed a serious situation for all concerned and maybe it highlights the fact, that our courts don’t have all the tools they need to produce a good outcomes for all involved.

        Maybe there needs to be something put in place that gives a judge the power to have sentenced him with a suspended conviction, not unlike a suspended sentence.

        This would allow the court to maintain supervision over the offender for a set time and effectively bond him to good behaviour,reparation and services to address violence issues.

        If the offender comes before the court for any reinvent issue in a set time frame the conviction stands. It may have been a better solution than just cutting him free from his responsibility to his victims and in doing so not made a victim of him as well.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  September 28, 2016

          How did one person assault four people ?

          I thought that he had been given community service.

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  September 28, 2016

            Sequentially.

          • Klik Bate

             /  September 28, 2016

            And you asked the same stupid question yesterday Kitty! I’m convinced you never actually read ANYTHING!!

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  September 28, 2016

              Why is it stupid ?

              If one person is being bashed up, the other three would surely be able to do something and not just line up, waiting for their turn They could have jumped upon the assailant, if nothing else.

              I see nothing stupid in wondering how one person can assault four others.

              Thank you for finding my words so fascinating that you memorise them.

              I would imagine that my reading generally is far more extensive than yours is or ever has been-in several languages.

            • patupaiarehe

               /  September 28, 2016

        • duperez

           /  September 28, 2016

          Bill, I don’t know about the niceties of the law and the application of it, but in seeking to get something positive out of this awful episode at least you have come up with a positive suggestion. That is in stark contrast to the many mad-headed, ignorant responses.
          As I suggested yesterday, the inevitable conclusion to be gained from some of the reaction is that many want judges to strictly apply specific punishments for specific offences, not “weigh up’, not have discretion, not consider mitigation, not use judgement, a paint-by-numbers system. Justice as the administration of the law not justice as in the quality of being fair and reasonable.

          • patupaiarehe

             /  September 28, 2016

            Fair comment duperez, however I don’t think a ‘discharge without conviction’, for beating the piss out of four complete strangers, with help from two of your mates, is appropriate under ANY circumstances, other than self defence. How sad for the offender if his drunken thuggery were to affect his rugby career. What about the rugby career of one of his victims? And the singing career of the woman he punched in the throat?

            • Bill

               /  September 29, 2016

              I was thinking more along the lines of restorative justice, in a true sense of the word and not just writing a letter to say you’re sorry.

              If people do the shit he did and don’t go to jail and lets face it, he would’ve only served half of any sentence handed down.

              Then the road back shouldn’t be an easy one and for a start should’ve contained a financial component to the victims. It costs the tax payers $91,000 a year to keep someone behind bars and for a disgusting act like this one, then there should be a cost for being on the outside as well.