ORANGE Hawks footballer Terawhiti Cooper was told in court he could have been sent to jail for an assault on a man at the Royal Hotel.
Cooper faced Orange Local Court for sentencing on Thursday charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
Defending Cooper, solicitor Mason Manwaring told the court after viewing CCTV footage provided by the hotel of the night he was convinced his client had avoided becoming involved in an altercation with a group of men nearby.
He had clearly been startled by the incident when someone came from behind and touched his client on the arm.
“But it was a ‘decent’ strike,” Mr Manwaring said.
“He thought he was being assaulted by the group of men,” he said.
Mr Manwaring said his client had previous issues of using violence but had shown real contrition over the assault on the innocent victim at the Royal Hotel.
Magistrate Terry Lucas in sentencing Cooper told him he was aware of the psychology involved with sporting teams who go on drinking sessions after games.
“I played rugby union many times myself once, and while you hit this bloke when you were out, that could have been me,” Mr Lucas told Cooper.
“This is an extremely serious assault,” he said.
Mr Manwaring asked the court to impose an appropriate penalty of an extended bond.
“I am going to keep my options open and although I will not send you to jail, if you breach the conditions of your bond and you come back before this court, you will go to jail next time,” Mr Lucas said.
“This is not the first time you’ve done this,” he told cooper.
Cooper now has to abide by strict conditions of his two year bond.
The accused was supported in court by a female friend.