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Former NRL star Craig Field gets 10 years in jail

Craig Field, appearing in Lismore Court charged with a fatal king-hit on Tweed cattle farmer Kelvin Kane.
Craig Field, appearing in Lismore Court charged with a fatal king-hit on Tweed cattle farmer Kelvin Kane. Cathy Adams

AN "unbridled act of aggression" is how Justice Elizabeth Fullerton described the king-hit by Craig Field when sentencing the former NRL star to 10 years jail for the manslaughter of Kelvin Kane.

Field, 42, was initially charged with murder over a fight in the Kingscliff Beach Hotel car park on July 15, 2012 that resulted in the 51-year-old cattle farmer's death from bleeding on the brain.

Following a 14-day trial in Lismore Supreme Court, on December 8 the former Rabbitohs captain was acquitted of murder and convicted of manslaughter.

Justice Fullerton desc-ribed the punch Field admitted to throwing as "unlawful, not done in self defence and dangerous".

"The offender gave no evidence on sentencing as to his actual motivation for throwing the punch," she said.

During the trial Field maintained he threw a punch in self defence.

Justice Fullerton said from the evidence there were five significant events that escalated tensions:

  • A conversation between Field and Lyn Burger;
     
  • A heated conversation between Ms Burger and Field's friend Shaun Fathers;
     
  • Shaun Fathers leaving the hotel and being phoned by Field and asked to come back;
     
  • An argument in the hotel smoking area between Field, Ms Burger and Mr Kane; and
     
  • An argument between publican Geoff Wallis and Mark Frost, an acquaintance of Field and Mr Kane.

"These events in combination appear to be the catalyst that led to the events in the car park."

She did not accept defence submissions that Field threw the punch in self defence in what she described as "an unprovoked and fatal assault in full public view".

"The offender inflicted lethal violence on a person who, in all evidence, had done nothing to him.

"He acted in a state of uncontrolled anger, unprovoked by anything Mr Kane said or did."

Justice Fullerton took into account Field's good character and a reference from Sydney radio host Alan Jones describing Field as "enthusiastic, passionate and decent", and that his actions on the night were out of character.

When she sentenced Field to 10 years jail with a non-parole period of seven years and six months, Field's wife Ellen gasped and burst into tears.

Claps were heard to come from the upper public gallery where Mr Kane's family sat.

Justice Fullerton then rejected Field's solicitor Jim Fuggle's application to seek leave to appeal.

Mr Fuggle said an appeal on Field's sentence would be filed "as soon as possible."

Topics:  court craig field crime jail nrl



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