A rising NRL star “switched seats” in an attempt to get out of the latest charge on an unenviable driving record which a judge slammed as “appalling,” a court has heard.

Samuela Fainu committed seven speeding offences and three counts of driving while disqualified or suspended in the short few years he’s spent behind the wheel, Sydney’s Parramatta District Court was told on Tuesday.

The talented 19-year-old, who recently signed an eye-watering $4 million deal with West Tigers, failed to appeal his sentence for his latest driving while disqualified offence.

Judge Stephen Hanley told defence lawyer Sam Saadat his client “has an appalling record”.

“He may well be a promising footballer, but that doesn’t excuse him from committing these offences,” he said.

Mr Saadat told the court his client’s “got a horrific record for someone of his age” but said he’s “a good kid who’s made some mistakes”.

“He’s continuing to learn and he’s doing the best he can to establish himself as a law-abiding citizen,” Mr Saadat said.

The court heard Fainu was caught driving while disqualified in June, just 15 days after he had his licence disqualified for driving while suspended.

He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a 12-month community correction order at Parramatta Local Court on August 8, with his licence disqualified for a further six months.

During Tuesday’s appeal hearing, the prosecutor told the court the police fact sheet described Fainu “switching seats with another person he was in the vehicle with” when police pulled him over, which was “evidence of consciousness of guilt and knowing what he was doing was wrong”.

“He’s only 19 and has amassed quite a significant history, the most serious being driving while disqualified or suspended as a third offence,” the prosecutor told the court.

“My friend (Mr Saadat) says he’s been learning and growing in the community. Evidently he has not, or he wouldn’t be committing an offence such as this”.

Judge Hanley noted Fainu completed a traffic offenders program but said one of his character references was misleading, because the reference wrote that Fainu was charged with speeding, not driving while disqualified.

“The previous disqualification appears to have had no impact on him at all, having driven twice within a small amount of time while not being allowed to drive,” Judge Hanley said.

“In my view, the magistrate was very lenient in only disqualifying him for six months … The appeal is dismissed”.

The youngster is not the first impressive NRL player in his family, or the first to land in trouble with the law.

Last year, his 24-year-old brother, Manase Fainu, was sentenced to at least four years and three months in prison for the far more serious crime of stabbing a youth leader during a bloody brawl outside a Mormon church dance.

A jury found him guilty of one count of wounding a person with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

The former Manly Sea Eagles hooker denied stabbing Faamanu Levi outside the alcohol-free event organised by the Church of the Latter Day Saints at Wattle Grove in October 2019.

He appealed his conviction at the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal earlier this month, but his appeal was dismissed.


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By Rahul

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