A Tongan rugby player in New Zealand has been jailed after having sex with a 15-year-old relative of a family he was living with.
Wesley Lataimuli Palavi, of Geraldine, who was 21 at the time of the offending, was convicted in the Timaru District Court of unlawful sexual connection with a young person.
The Court heard how Palavi began meeting and grooming the girl by sending messages to her on Facebook.
This progressed to full sexual intercourse on July 4, 2016 when Palavi and the complainant were walking to Palavi’s rugby training at Ruakapuka Recreation Reserve.
“On the way to the reserve they walked through Kennedy Park in Geraldine, where they engaged in full sexual intercourse,” Fairfax Media reports.
The overstayer was sentenced to 15 months jail for unlawful sexual connection.
Defence Lawyer Quentin Hix said Palavi had come from Tonga to New Zealand to play rugby.
“At the time of the offending, Palavi had been based in Ashburton and had travelled down to Geraldine, where he lived in a sleepout with two other Fijian rugby players,” the report says.
Palavi had also been due to leave the country a few weeks after the incident occurred, however a stop had been put on Palavi’s visa by police preventing him from leaving.
He had therefore been forced to stay in New Zealand beyond the terms of his visa against his will.