Hammer attacker ‘crushed’ as court delays NRL return

Miklos Bolza |

Junior Amone faces a long wait for an NRL return after he and his father appealed their sentences.
Junior Amone faces a long wait for an NRL return after he and his father appealed their sentences.

A former St George Illawarra player who hoped to have his sentence halved after being involved in a violent hammer attack has been left disappointed and waiting for his return to professional rugby league.

Junior Amone had been sentenced to a 24-month intensive correction order after he and his father confronted a tradesman who had parked on a neighbouring property in Warrawong, a suburb of Wollongong, in November 2022.

The 22-year-old smashed the man’s car windscreen with the hammer before climbing onto a roof and chasing the victim.

The man fled from Amone, jumping across to another rooftop before falling from the building, hitting an air-conditioning unit on the way down.

The ex-Dragons five-eighth was convicted along with father Talatau, who egged him on during the attack, in Wollongong Local Court in December.

Both appeared in Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court on Wednesday.

Amone’s lawyer John Korn asked Judge William Fitzsimmons to reduce his client’s sentence from two years to one, which would mean the term finished before the end of the year.

Instead, the judge re-sentenced the Amone to a 16-month intensive correction order, commencing on Wednesday, meaning the total sentence will not be completed until October 2025.

“This type of unprovoked, violent behaviour … must be denounced in the strongest terms,” he said.

Judge Fitzsimmons found the conduct was out of character for Amone who had no prior criminal record.

Former Dragons player Talatau Junior Amone arrives at court
Junior Amone hasn’t expressed remorse but has good rehabilitation prospects, the judge said. (Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS)

But he noted the former NRL player had not expressed remorse for his actions.

Nevertheless, Amone had good prospects of rehabilitation, having continued his training regime to return to the NRL, and it would be a tragedy for him if he lost his chance to continue his professional career, the judge found.

In earlier submissions, Mr Korn said the NRL would be happy to have the ex-five-eighth come back to the game after his sentence was completed despite his contract being ripped up on his conviction.

Amone had already been doing menial tasks for his junior club and was being mentored by two professional players, including one with a troubled past who had resurrected his career, the court was told.

Both father and son faced one charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and one charge of intimidation over the incident.

Talatau Amone faced an extra count of entering a building or land to commit an indictable offence and was jailed for two years and six months with a non-parole period of 12 months.

Judge Fitzsimmons previously rejected the pair’s conviction appeals.

Mr Korn said Amone had been raised in a strict disciplinary household and was obeying his father, who had spurred him to act during rooftop chase.

Talatau Dal Amone (left), and son Talatau Junior Amone a
Talatau Amone’s appeal against his jail sentence has been delayed. (Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS)

Crown prosecutor Rob Taylor disputed this, saying Amone had gone further than his father’s encouragement by arming himself with the hammer and being prepared to use it.

He also tried to justify his conduct by claiming he was tired as he had just returned on the day of the attack from the UK, where he had played for Tonga.

Mr Korn told the court his client had already completed the 300 hours of community service imposed as part of the 24-month sentence, and had gone above and beyond that by doing further work for his club.

“He has gone about accepting that he’s done the wrong thing, and needs to change and improve himself,” he said.

As well as imposing the 16-month corrections order, Judge Fitzsimmons ordered Amone to conduct a further 50 hours of community service work.

Speaking outside court, Mr Korn said Amone likely “feels crushed” by the outcome with no known avenues of appeal left open to him.

His father’s severity appeal was adjourned until August after Judge Fitzsimmons requested information from community corrections, including whether home detention would be appropriate.