Jamil Hopoate was fortunate to escape the mandatory visa cancellation after committing an assault charge of grievous bodily harm. He served 9mths of an 18mths sentence.
Date October 10, 2015 Daniel Lane
Jamil Hopoate, who had a promising NRL future before being imprisoned for his role in an assault, was released from Sydney's Long Bay prison on Friday and will soon be lecturing young footballers about the ramifications of alcohol-fuelled violence.
Hopoate, 20, was contracted to Manly when he took part in an assault that was described by Downing Centre Local Court magistrate Jane Mottley as "savage and unprovoked", when he and a group of friends punched and kicked Alexander Christie outside the Ivanhoe Hotel at Manly.
Hopoate was filmed attempting to kick Christie and even though he did not connect he was found equally as culpable as his co-offenders who were dealt with in the District Court.
Another man who tried to stop the attack was assaulted. Hopoate pleaded guilty to two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm in company over the attack and served nine months of an 18-month sentence following a successful appeal in the District Court.
His manager Tyran Smith said it was important that the son of former rugby league international John Hopoate use his experiences to help other young footballers understand the consequences of their actions.
"He's learnt a very big lesson," said Smith. "And he will be sharing what it meant to young people and it will carry a lot of meaning because the people he speaks to will be learning from someone who has been there and done it ... and, the truth is, it's not a very good story for Jamil to have to tell.
"But he wants people to learn from him and I think that willingness for him to share that message is a powerful thing. He's mature enough to do it and he has genuinely learnt from his mistake."
Smith said Hopoate's barrister Julieanne Levick was organising the lectures and it was hoped he could act as a mentor for young men who were in danger of following a similar dangerous path.
It was expected Hopoate would talk to New Zealand international Suaia Matagi, who will play for Penrith next year, for advice on the best way to deliver his message.
Matagi has been praised for his efforts to use the story of his imprisonment for an assault when he was a teenage gang member in New Zealand to steer vulnerable young men away from a prison cell. He wrote and performs in a one-man show that has been praised for its rawness. "I was in a prison cell with my hands cuffed behind my back," Matagi said of his introduction to prison. "That memory is the permanent mark of a criminal.
"I stayed out of trouble [in prison] even though it's impossible in a place surrounded by dangerous possibilities. You have gangs, drugs ... it's all there, but I was focused on getting out early."
Meanwhile, William Hopoate is still waiting for his case against Parramatta to be heard in the NSW Supreme Court as a result of the Eels not honouring his player's contract after months of protracted negotiations with the club.
December 10, 2014 Paul Bibby
Promising NRL player Jamil Hopoate has been sentenced to at least 12 months jail for assaulting a man outside a northern beaches hotel.
But lawyers for Hopoate almost immediately indicated they would appeal the sentence and have launched an 11th-hour bid for bail, but this application was rejected by the magistrate.
Jamil Hopoate, in a file picture. Photo: Anthony Johnson
In February this year, in an attack described by Downing Centre Local Court Magistrate Jane Mottley as "savage and unprovoked", the 20-year-old Manly Sea Eagles player and a group of friends punched and kicked Alexander Christie outside the Ivanhoe Hotel.
When another man, Timothy Blackett, tried to intervene he was "tossed aside like an unwanted plaything".
Hopoate later pleaded guilty to two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm in company over the attack.
Manly rookie Jamil Hopoate has been jailed for at least 12 months for assault. Photo: Nick Moir
In an earlier hearing watched closely by Hopoate's famous father John, the 20-year-old's lawyers argued that he should be spared a full time custodial sentence because of his age and the likely effect on his mental health.
But Magistrate Mottley disagreed, finding that "the only appropriate sentence is one of full-time imprisonment".
"Mr Hopoate and his co-offenders set out to exact revenge on a person or persons," Magistrate Mottley said in a scathing set of remarks on sentence.
"If ever there was a case of someone being in the wrong place at the wrong time it was Mr Christie.
"As someone from the northern beaches area he may well have cheered Mr Hopoate's team from the sidelines.
"But he was punched, kicked and rendered unconscious. There needs to be accountability for this kind of behaviour and recognition for the harm done to the community."
Hopoate was sentenced to a maximum 18 months jail with a minimum 12-month non-parole period.
He was also placed on a two-year good behaviour bond for the second assault on Mr Blackett.
Hopoate was hugged and kissed by his father John before removing his jewellery and tie in preparation to be taken into custody by corrections officers.
Hopoate returned to court less than an hour later with his lawyers indicating they would appeal the decision and asking for his immediate release on bail pending that appeal.
But Magistrate Mottley gave the bail application short shrift, declaring that the appeal had "no reasonable prospects of success".
She also said that there was an unacceptable risk that Hopoate would fail to appear at court if released as well as an unacceptable risk that he would commit a further offence.
The application was refused and Hopoate was taken back into custody.
Jamil Hopoate charged over assault
February 17, 2014
Rising rugby league player Jamil Hopoate has been charged with assault after allegedly punching a man outside a northern beaches pub in Sydney on Saturday night.
Hopoate was charged with two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm in company and one count of affray.
The son of former NRL star John Hopoate and brother of Parramatta's star recruit Will, Jamil has a chequered past before even featuring in first grade.
The 19-year-old is considered a promising backrow prospect, currently with the Manly Sea Eagles, but his immediate future in the game is now in the hands of the NRL's Integrity Unit, the club confirmed in a statement.
In 2012, Hopoate was sacked by the Eels, who were unimpressed with his off-field behaviour after he defied instructions not to leave the NRL's official rookies camp - designed to educate the game's young stars on their responsibilities.
He has also previously had his driver's licence suspended for six months for mid-range drink-driving.