Manu Vatuvei facing methamphetamine charges
4 May, 2021, 2:24 pm
(NZ HERALD)—With one Instagram post Manu Vatuvei brought to an end an 18-month long legal battle to keep his name secret.
Since charges of importing, possessing and supplying methamphetamine were laid against Vatuvei in November 2019, the rugby league star had spent months fighting for name suppression to keep his name out of any news reports connected to the court case.
He has denied the charges, which carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
But Vatuvei publicly put an end to the ongoing secrecy, posting a video on Instagram revealing the allegations just days before a High Court name suppression order was expected to expire.
Vatuvei’s case is due to go to trial later this year.
He had until today, May 3, 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’s case has meandered for months.
He 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, 03 May.
That was to give him the chance to argue his case at the Court of Appeal.
The former national representative and Warriors star was arrested after police executed a search warrant and took several people into custody in late 2019.
At Vatuvei’s first appearance, supporters in the public gallery called out reassurances to him.
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.
The former league star and reality television celebrity said he wanted to get something off his chest that had been holding him down for a while.
“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.”
Vatuvei said he hoped people could respect that and respect the privacy of his family while he goes through this battle.