She was satisfied Fainu had been convicted of an offense for which he will be sentenced to full-time exceptional imprisonment and was not special or circumstances existed to refuse satisfied the application. It was granted and Fainu was taken into custody.
The judge was concerned by the lapse in time since he had last sought psychiatric treatment and that he had been resistant as recently as the weekend, and said a significant amount of time had passed for Fainu to prepare himself mentally and financially for custody.
Williams said while Fainu had been “substantially in the glare of the media” it did not amount to a relevant circumstance, but would be appropriate to raise during sentencing.
She asked that he was immediately triaged by Justice Health and referred to a treating psychiatrist.
Williams acknowledged a character reference from Manly coach Des Hasler who said he “genuinely believes that Manase had it all and more” and he had no doubt Fainu was “destined for greatness”.
Defense Barrister Margaret Cunneen, SC, said Hasler described a “Superman complex” faced by young men, believing no harm can come to them, as magnified by the pressure of professional sport.
“He also makes the point that, these last three years, his absence in the NRL can never be retrieved,” Cunneen said.
She had submitted that Fainu’s mental health was “extremely precarious”, and if he had presented to hospital over the weekend, “it would’ve been in the newspapers straight away”.
“It’s extraordinary, but a rugby league player in Sydney … found guilty of any offense, is subject to more publicity than any other person in society, perhaps, unless he was a famous actor or some such thing,” Cunneen said.
She argued Fainu would struggle to adjust in custody, having “suffered a most enormous downfall, an unthinkable downfall”, and his father had taken ill with suspected heart problems after the verdict.
Counsellor Jan Earl, who runs Elite Athletes Wellbeing Services, said Fainu developed a dependence on prescription drugs after shoulder surgery in 2019 but had been sober since 2020 and did not drink alcohol as it was against his church values. His former psychiatrist died from cancer earlier this year.
Earl told the court Fainu had exceptional prowess and rose through the ranks but if he was incarcerated, “his career is definitely over”.
She said that while subject to the NRL’s no-fault stand-down policy, Fainu had been “shunned like a black cat”, and money was used from the 2023 rugby league contracts of two of his younger brothers to pay for his legal fees.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Hasler said Fainu had remained active and involved with the club and described the verdict as “just a shock”.
Manly chief executive Tony Mestrov said comment was limited given Fainu’s barrister had raised an intention to appeal. Cunneen previously said the verdict was a “perverse” one on the evidence.
“As per we’ve done throughout this whole process, we’re going to support Manase in any way we can, particularly from a wellbeing point of view,” Mestrov said.
Fainu will be sentenced at a later date.
For help in a crisis call 000. If you or anyone you know needs support, you can contact Lifeline 131 114, or Beyond Blue 1300 224 636.
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