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The governing body of rugby league in New Zealand's credibility as a wise and just body must surely be called into question following their decision last week to allow Shaun Williams-Metcalf to be re-instated back into rugby league after his callous and cowardly attempt to abort his then girlfriend?s unborn child.Williams-Metcalf, accompanied by a couple of mates tried (unsuccessfully) to kick the unborn child out of the young woman's body. Williams-Metcalf was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment in the District Court on 27 May 2004. He had earlier pleaded guilty to three charges that jointly with two others, he: (a) With intent to procure the miscarriage of a young woman, he unlawfully used violence against her in the form of an assault. (Sec 183 (1) (c) Crimes Act 1961.) (b) Aggravated robbery by robbing the same young woman of a cell phone (Sec 235 (1)(b) Crimes Act 1961). (c) Injuring the same young woman with intent to injure her (Sec 189 (2) Crimes Act 1961). Williams-Metcalf then had the cheek to apply for home detention. His application was refused by the New Zealand Parole Board. "The offending was premeditated, callous and brutal. It has had serious consequences for the victim as far as her confidence and self esteem is concerned and it will be a long time, if ever, before she fully recovers. We have interviewed her along with her mother and grandfather. Not unreasonably they are strongly opposed to this application and we are bound to take her views into account." and refused his application for home detention. Williams-Metcalf's ex girlfriend is the victim of this crime and she has asked the New Zealand Rugby League to refuse his application to play rugby league. After initially saying that Williams-Metcalf would never play again in New Zealand, The New Zealand Rugby League board has decided the three Auckland 17-year-olds, suspended, can rejoin the code.
Executive chairman Sel Pearson said it was a difficult decision given the "socially appalling" nature of the crime but the board, after widely seeking advice, believed it was an opportunity for rehabilitation that the teenagers should not be refused. Mr Pearson said that despite their early promise, league didn't really need them. The board had seriously questioned, therefore, whether the NZRL really wanted the three back in the game.
"But if it helps turn their lives around and for them to contribute positively to the community, then it is probably the right decision.
"Rugby league provides them a tool. It's all up to them now."
Mr Pearson said all three were on parole and the NZRL would watch them closely.
"They understand this is their last chance. They show extreme remorse [and] are not trying to defend their actions."
Mr Pearson said the decision was reached by six board members and three independent judicial committee members, including a judge.
They had sought views from the Corrections Department, counsellors and anger management experts.
Mr Pearson said the trio had been "children making an adult decision - a pretty bad one" - and he had enormous sympathy for the victim, who now has a daughter aged 17 months, and for her family.
He told the family of the board's decision in person on Saturday and said they were disappointed. "I can understand they feel aggrieved." So, in an effort to do the NZ Justice Depts job for them, Sel Pearson and his board have basically told the victim that she, and her new born daughter, don't really count, the game in NZ needs a bit of mongrel in it and young Metcalf and his friends are just the image the NZRL is trying to promote ? The fact that the league fan was sickened at the brutality of the crime and then disgusted at the NZRL's lack of compassion for the victim and total spinelessness in their handling of the situation is beyond belief. Are we, the gate paying 'bums on seats' public, expected to hold any respect for the national ruling body? Sure, these young blokes have done their time for the crime. Perhaps if they were charged with attempted murder (which in my opinion it was) the NZRL may have supported the victim, her family, and the image of the game in NZ. If Williams-Metcalf had belted a ref, he would have been banned from the game for life. Had he taken a performance enhancing or illegal substance he would have been banned for some years, perhaps indefinitely. If he had partaken in an illegal tackle, high shot or bought the game into disrepute(sic) he might have seen a few weeks/months on the sideline. He tried to take the life of another human being. He has successfully damaged the life of a young kiwi woman He has brought the once proud name of the game in NZ into disrepute. The NZRL have opened their arms in welcome, they have devalued the life of the victim. For mine, its just not good enough.