Rugby league legend Manu Vatuvei reveals meth charges after long-running suppression fight
Rugby league legend Manu Vatuvei has revealed he is facing charges of importing, possessing and supplying methamphetamine.
He has denied the charges, which carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, and spent years fighting for name suppression.
But today, Vatuvei has posted a video on Instagram revealing the allegations just days before a High Court order was expected to expire.
Manu Vatuvei said he wanted to get something off his chest that had been holding him down for a while now.
“In 2019 I was charged with importation, possession and supply of methamphetamine.
“All these charges are accusations and I’ll be fighting my innocence for these charges. I know there will be a lot of questions that are wanting answers but I’ve been advised from my legal team that that’s all I can talk about.”
He said he hoped people could respect that and respect the privacy of his family while he goes through this battle.
The former national representative and Warriors star was arrested after police executed a search warrant and took several people into custody in late 2019.
Vatuvei was charged in November 2019 and his case is due to go to trial later this year.
He had until this coming week to extend his name suppression, but only if he went to the Court of Appeal.
As late as Friday afternoon, the Court of Appeal received no correspondence from him or his legal team.
Vatuvei, a New Zealand Warriors great, was one of the best wingers in the NRL at his peak, with his 152 tries for the Warriors a club record – 70 more than the second-best try scorer.
He played in 226 games for the club – the third most of all time, and added 29 tests for New Zealand, in which he scored 22 tries.
Vatuvei debuted for the Warriors in 2004 and played for the team until 2017, before a short stint in England with Salford. He was the first player in NRL history to score at least 10 tries in 10 consecutive seasons.
Vatuvei’s court case has meandered for months.
Vatuvei initially obtained interim name suppression, but on November 25 last year, a judge declined to continue it further.
An appeal hearing was heard at the High Court in Auckland in March, with Justice Rebecca Edwards dismissing the appeal.
But Vatuvei’s name suppression was allowed to continue until tomorrow.
That was to give him the chance to argue his case at the Court of Appeal.
At Vatuvei’s first appearance, supporters in the public gallery called out reassurances to the man.
At the time of Vatuvei’s arrest, Counties Manukau police said two men were arrested after a joint investigation with Customs into methamphetamine supply.
The initial interim name suppression order, first granted by Judge John Macdonald, was extended on December 4, 2019, by Judge Peter Rollo to protect an ongoing police investigation.
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