Saracens rugby star belted law graduate in the jaw in Clapham brawl

EXCLUSIVE: Saracens rugby star, 23, is fined £500 after he punched law graduate twice in the jaw in bar brawl after ‘the red mist came down’ when he bumped into him

  • Saracens ace Kapeli Pifeleti, 23, pleaded guilty to assaulting Charlie Boyns, 25
  • Court heard the ‘red mist came down’ before the attack in Clapham, London 

A rugby star whose club say is a ‘hard-hitting hooker who never shies away from physicality’ belted a law graduate in the jaw after he accidentally bumped into him.

Seventeen stone Saracens ace Kapeli Pifeleti, 23, pleaded guilty to assaulting Charlie Boyns, 25, causing him actual bodily harm at Cafe Sol, Clapham High Street, on December 2, last year.

A court heard today Pifeleti, of St. Albans, Hertfordshire, attacked after the ‘red mist came down’.

At Croydon Magistrates’ Court the USA international was fined £500 and ordered to pay the victim £600 compensation, plus £85 court costs and a £200 victim surcharge.

He is described by his Premiership Rugby club Saracens on its website as ‘a hard-hitting hooker who never shies away from physicality’.

Seventeen stone Saracens ace Kapeli Pifeleti, 23, pleaded guilty to assaulting Charlie Boyns, 25

Luke Cowan-Dickie of Exeter Chiefs is tackled by Kapeli Pifeleti of Saracens during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Exeter Chiefs and Saracens at Sandy Park on October 22, 2022

Prosecutor Andreas Malekos told the court it was around midnight in the busy restaurant bar when Mr Boyns, a former grammar school First XV rugby player himself who still participates, came into contact with him.

‘There was a dispute when the defendant bumped into him, which started a verbal exchange and this defendant asked: ‘What are you doing?’

‘He was then hit twice in the face by this defendant and felt immediate pain and swelling.

‘At one point he puts the victim into a headlock and the entire incident last around ten seconds.

‘The defendant admitted the offence at the scene and said he was under the influence of alcohol at the time.

Chairman of Saracens Neil Golding, Kapeli Pifeleti and General Manager Philip Morrow leaving Croydon Magistrates’ Court

‘The victim received a cut to his lip and swelling.’

Mr Boyns said in his victim impact statement: ‘This was my first night out with two new housemates. The guy was huge and hit me for no reason.

‘I was in the process of receiving two months of physiotherapy and this makes things so much worse.’

The court heard Pifeleti received a police caution for an offence of affray in Hertfordshire in 2021.

Pifeleti’s lawyer Mark Haslam told the court: ‘The defendant accepts he is at fault and took matters to a higher level and accepts that he was drunk when he struck the blows in a period of ten seconds.

‘This cannot be said to be a prolonged and sustained attack. It is two blows, two strikes at the bottom end of the sentencing scale.

‘He has personally written a letter of apology to the victim and his employers are aware.

‘His behaviour that night was unacceptable and self-intoxication is not an excuse. The defendant accepts all of that and apologises profusely.

‘He made full and frank admissions at the scene and has pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.

‘There is effectively a double punishment here because this is not the end of the matter as far as his employers are concerned. They will monitor his performance as part of the penalty.

‘The red mist had come down and he was flailing around in a drunken state.’

Both the Chairman of Saracens, Neil Golding and the club’s General Manager, Philip Morrow were in court supporting the player, who will remain a member of their team.

Mr Golding wrote a letter to the court, explaining Pifeleti came to the UK from Tonga on a rugby scholarship at £40,000-a year Haileybury School, aged fifteen years-old, and signed with Saracens, aged eighteen.

‘He is in the First Team and is a model professional, who trains hard and is a genuinely nice man and it is inconceivable this incident would have occurred if he had not been drinking,’ wrote the Chairman.

‘Drinking is no excuse for his behaviour,’ added Mr Golding of the £1,000 per week star.

‘He assists with our club’s charitable foundation every Monday evening for children with autism and there are sports and dancing activities.

‘The club are very dissatisfied with his behaviour and he has been given a formal warning and knows that further similar conduct and behaviour will jeopardise his entire rugby career.’

The club have imposed their own community service penalty on Pifeleti, who must now devote two hours every Monday evening to the foundation for the remainder of the season.

Magistrate Steven Van Gelder announced: ‘There are consequences here and the club are going to impose on their player penalties in excess of what we impose.

‘You pleaded guilty on the first occasion and made admissions in your police interview,’ the magistrate told the grey-suited Pifeleti.

‘There are aggravating factors here. You were intoxicated, highly intoxicated and you started this and it must have been a very distressing incident for everybody in that busy night time bar.

‘We know you have written a letter of apology to the person you attacked that night and have been doing well in the community.

‘We know you are supported by your rugby club and you have been given a formal warning as to your further behaviour.

‘You will almost certainly be in serious trouble with your rugby career if there is another serious incident.’

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