Caruana pleads guilty to assault

FORMER North Sydney Bears player Chris Caruana has pleaded guilty in court to an assault in Woolgoolga earlier this year.

Caruana, 37, an ARL rugby league star during the 1990s, has admitted to punching a man several times during a dispute.

The Coffs Harbour Local Court heard he assaulted the former partner of his de facto in Trafalgar Street, Woolgoolga, on February 13.

The victim, a 52-year-old local man, has since taken out an apprehended violence order against the former player.

And a magistrate has also instructed him not to approach the man and to avoid contact with any witnesses in the case.

The victim told police Caruana yelled at him as he was walked past his car on the afternoon in question.

Caruana then allegedly got out of his vehicle and challenged him to a fight saying: “Come on, do you want to go now?”

Police were told Caruana punched the man several times in the face and head, knocking him to the ground.

A friend of the victim helped the man to his feet.

He told police Caruana then pushed past him, knocking the man down again with a flurry of punches.

The victim is said to have suffered heavy bruising and deep cuts to his face and eyes.

After the assault, Caruana left the scene and was later questioned by police.

During an interview he confessed to the assault, saying the man often provoked him and his partner prior to the incident.

He told police the man had continually intimidated him “by staring at them whenever they cross paths in the town”.

A talented footballer, who at the height of his career was considered for representative honours, Caruana’s career was cut short.

His first-grade career in Sydney ended in 1997 amid allegations he racially vilified Newcastle Knights player Owen Craigie.

After the alleged on-field insult, he fell out of favour with the club and was reportedly fined $3000 and was dropped from first grade.

Apparently made an example of by the league, he was later released from his contract.

Prior to his time at North Sydney Rugby League Club, Caruana also played at the top level for the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

Since moving to Woolgoolga he has also had some involvement in local country rugby league.

In court he was described as a person of good character.

Metropolitan news outlets, meanwhile, have reported he has been found guilty of similar assault offences in the past.

Released on conditional bail, Caruana will reappear in the Coffs Harbour Local Court to be sentenced on July 21.

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