Former NRL player Craig Field has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for the one-punch manslaughter of a Tweed shire cattle farmer at a hotel at Kingscliff.
Field’s family wept as NSW Supreme Court judge Elizabeth Fullerton announced the sentence.
Justice Fullerton set a non-parole period of seven years, six months, backdated to 11 July, 2014.
The former South Sydney rugby league captain was last week found not guilty of murder but guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter by a jury at the Supreme Court in Lismore.
Tweed farmer Kelvin Kane, 50, was found lying unconscious outside a pub at Kingscliff, on the NSW north coast, in July 2012.
Mr Kane was put on life support but later died in hospital.
During his trial, Field had admitted punching 50-year-old Kelvin Kane outside the Kingscliff Hotel, but his defence team argued he did not deliver the blow that caused a fatal brain haemorrhage.
Crown prosecutor Lee Carr maintained however that Field had taken a leading role in the fight after earlier acting as a peacemaker during earlier confrontations between various people at the hotel.
Mr Carr said Field’s motivation for throwing the punch was “backing up his mate”, and he submitted that the offending was in the mid-range of objective seriousness.
But Justice Fullerton said Field acted in a state of uncontrollable anger when he punched Mr Kane in a gratuitous fashion.
‘Mr Kane’s sudden and senseless death is more painful for them because from all accounts he was doing nothing more than peacefully spending time with an old friend,’ she said.
She said after Field, 42, hit Mr Kane and the farmer fell to the ground, the former league player left without checking on him and had since shown no remorse for his actions.
Justice Fullerton told the court the maximum sentence for manslaughter was 25 years, but she said she was satisfied the offending was in the mid-range of seriousness.
But she said a full-time sentence was called for.
‘Taking another’s life is a criminal offence of the greatest seriousness and the community is entitled to expect that those who take it will be punished,’ she said.