Former All Black Sione Lauaki has been convicted for
ripping a CCTV camera out of an Auckland taxi during a dispute
with the driver over a fare.
Lauaki, 32, admitted a charge of wilful damage when he
appeared in Auckland District Court yesterday over incident
in December last year.
A police officer charged alongside Lauaki pleaded not guilty
to the same charge earlier this week.
Lauaki had not been the main instigator of the row, and had
pulled out the camera under a "misguided sense of loyalty to
his friend", the court duty solicitor said today.
Lauaki and a group of three friends had been drinking in a
nightclub, before getting into a taxi to Auckland city, on
On the way an argument kicked off between the driver and one
of the group about the fare, the court prosecutor said. This
continued for a short period, until the driver stopped the
taxi at Greenwoods Corner, Epsom, at 3.30am and asked them to
However, the passenger continued the argument, and when the
driver refused to repay the fare, the man allegedly hit the
passenger-side wing mirror of the taxi, causing it to break
It was then that Lauaki leant across the passenger seat and
ripped the CCTV camera off the taxi and threw it across the
road, the court was told.
The duty solicitor said Lauaki had initially tried to diffuse
the situation between his friend and the taxi driver, but to
She said he did not condone his own behaviour, and admitted
it had left an "unpleasant taste'' to both himself and all
Lauaki offered his apologies to the taxi driver, she said.
Convicting the former All Black, Judge David Wilson said he
sensed it was a situation "that got out of hand", and
accepted Lauaki was not the main instigator.
He ordered Lauaki to pay $700 to replace the broken CCTV
camera, and $130 in court costs.
Outside court the sportsman said he was "happy it's all
In future he would "sit on the side and not get involved", he
said, but added he had believed he had been "trying to be
loyal to my friend'' at the time.
"You've just got to learn from it,'' he said.
Lauaki was forced to quit rugby in 2012 after routine medical
tests discovered problems with his heart and kidneys. The
court was told he received a sickness benefit for heart