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Fiji lock jailed for sexual assault

NEWS: Fiji lock Api Ratuniyarawa was jailed for nearly three years on Tuesday for sexually assaulting three teenagers in a bar days before he was due to play for the Barbarians in Cardiff last year.

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Ratuniyarawa attacked the three young women on three consecutive nights at the same city centre establishment.

The 37-year-old admitted two counts of assault by penetration and one of sexual assault between October 31 and November 2, 2023.

He was sentenced by a judge at Cardiff Crown Court to two years and 10 months in jail. Two further charges of sexual assault relating to one of the three women were ordered to lie on file.

All incidents were caught on security cameras, and none of the victims, all of whom were aged 19, knew Ratuniyarawa or each other beforehand.

One of the women, who read out her impact statement in court, said Ratuniyarawa had “ruined” her life.

Ratuniyarawa was a forward for London Irish before the club filed for administration in June.

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The lock, who has also played for Northampton Saints and with Agen in France, was hoping his appearance for the invitational side would lead to a contract with a new club.

Instead, the court heard that the assaults have effectively ended his career.

Ratuniyarawa’s lawyer, Ruth Smith said her client wished to apologise to his victims and he recognised the “shame that he has brought to himself and his family”.

The Barbarians – a team that brings together players from different clubs for several fixtures each year – played against Wales on November 4 at the Principality Stadium.

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Heath Edwards, prosecuting, said Ratuniyarawa had travelled to the Welsh capital the week before for training and media commitments but spent much of the week out socialising.

Judge Tracey Lloyd-Clarke said Ratuniyarawa had caused both physical and mental trauma to his victims.

Passing sentence, she told the player: “All the offences are aggravated because you were under the influence of alcohol and I bear in mind physical injury was caused as well as the psychological injury that was caused on all three occasions.

“For all three offences, I note you stopped only because others intervened.

“On the other hand, you are a man with no previous convictions and you are of positive good character I accept that the remorse and shame you feel is genuine and I bear in mind the steps you have taken to address the cause of this behaviour.”

Ratuniyarawa was capped 36 times by Fiji and represented his nation at the 2015 and 2019 World Cups.

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