Former rugby league star Craig Field has been sentenced to 10 years’ jail for the manslaughter of a man outside a northern New South Wales hotel.
Field, 42, admitted to punching 50-year-old cattle farmer Kelvin Kane during a fight outside the Kingscliff Hotel on the north coast on July 15, 2012.
Field’s defence team argued he did not deliver the blow that caused a fatal brain haemorrhage.
Following a 14-day trial in the Supreme Court in Lismore, it took the seven man and five woman jury just under six hours to find Field not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter last week.
Jurors were told Mr Kane was reluctantly drawn into a fight with Field’s friend, Shaun Fathers, on the night he died.
The court heard Field was initially acting as a “peace maker” when he weighed in with a single forceful punch which was described by one witness as “bone shattering”.
While giving evidence, Field admitted throwing a punch but denied delivering the fatal blow, telling jurors: “It was just out of fear I threw a punch to the right of his head.”
Mr Kane died from a single blow to the jaw which ruptured an artery at the base of the skull, causing bleeding on his brain.
He was taken unconscious to the Tweed Hospital and pronounced dead the next day.
Members of Kelvin Kane’s family were in court throughout the three-week trial along with members of Craig Field’s family.
Field’s wife Ellen broke down in tears when the sentence was handed down while Field stood shocked in the dock.
Field’s professional football career began as a 17-year-old with the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
He left the club in 1996 and had playing stints with Manly and the Tigers before retiring from the NRL in 2001.
Broadcaster Alan Jones provided a reference for Field and described him as “engaging, enthusiastic and passionate”.
During sentencing Justice Elizabeth Fullerton said Field “at no time expressed remorse for causing the death of Mr Kane”.
Field was handed a head sentence of 10 years and will be eligible for parole after serving seven years and six months in custody.
The maximum penalty for manslaughter in New South Wales is 25 years.