Manase Fainu court, rising star guilty of church stabbing

Manase Fainu court, rising star guilty of church stabbing

NRL rising star Manase Fainu has been found guilty of stabbing a church youth leader during a violent and bloody brawl outside a Mormon church dance.

Fainu, 24, pleaded not guilty to plunging a steak knife into the back of Faamanu Levi at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at Wattle Grove in southwestern Sydney on the evening of October 25, 2019.

But it only took the jury a few hours to find him guilty of one count of wounding a person with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and is facing a maximum of 25 years in prison.

The jury accepted the Crown prosecution’s argument that Fainu stabbed Mr Levi in ​​the back near his shoulder blade and cut him above his right eye during a brawl also involving four of his mates and another group of men.

NRL rising star Manase Fainu has been found guilty. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Christian Gilles.Source: News Corp Australia

One eyewitness, Tony Quach, told the court that he had seen Mr Fainu, who had his arm in a sling at the time, stab Mr Levi, puncturing his lungs and causing internal bleeding.

It was not an issue during the trial that Fainu had his arm in a sling after undergoing shoulder surgery a month earlier or that he was in the carpark.

But he denied playing any part in the stabbing or the brawl, claiming it was a case of mistaken identity.

Fainu claimed he was about 10m away and began back-pedaling because he feared for his safety when he heard someone yell “knife, knife”.

But Mr Quach told the court he saw Fainu stab his friend Mr Levi and was able to identify him by his distinctive sling.

Faamanu Levi was stabbed during a brawl following a Mormon church dance. Picture: Shannon Tonkin.Source: Supplied
Tony Quach says he saw Manase Fainu stab a man during a wild church brawl. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Christian Gilles.Source: News Corp Australia

During his evidence, Mr Quach said Fainu had not started the fight but “he ended it”.

“I saw the knife plunged into Levi’s back,” Mr Quach said.

“Who did you see plunge the knife into Levi’s back?” Crown prosecutor Emma Curran asked.

“The accused,” Mr Quach said, adding he saw Fainu with one arm in a sling and holding a knife in his other hand, with his arm bent at a 90-degree angle.

Mr Quach described Fainu as having an angry look on his face.

The court was told that earlier in the evening, two of Fainu’s friends – including Uona “Big Buck” Faingaa – were involved in an altercation on the church hall dance floor and were escorted out.

Fainu’s NRL career is in pieces. Picture: AAP Image/Joel CarrettSource: AAP

Fainu said he went to the church dance with four of his friends because Mr Faingaa was seeking to collect money owed to him by a man for a concreting job.

The Manly Sea Eagles hooker said he left the church grounds as his mates were being escorted out and apologized to a security guard for his friends’ behavior as he exited.

Ms Curran said another man, Kupi Toilalo, said he saw a man approach him and his friends during the incident with his left arm in a sling holding a knife.

“When Kupi saw this, he was at arm’s length away from the person holding the knife, nothing obstructing his view,” Ms Curran said.

CCTV played during the trial showed Fainu jumping the fence from a Coles carpark back into the church grounds shortly before the brawl.

CCTV footage showing Manase Fainu jumping a fence into a Mormon church dance shortly before a wild brawl. Picture: SuppliedSource: Supplied

He said he jumped the fence despite admitting that he could have walked back in via the front gate.

“Manase Fainu jumped over a fence into the grounds of the church, he was with four of his friends and the group of them approached Mr Levi and his friends,” Ms Curran said during her closing submissions.

“A brawl broke out and when things looked like they were getting out of hand, Mr Fainu pulled out a knife and plunged it into the back of Mr Levi, causing a wound that punctured his lung and caused internal bleeding.”

Fainu will be sentenced at a later date.