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Api Ratuniyarawa: Fiji international rugby player sent to prison for series of sexual offences

Api Ratuniyarawa admitted two counts of assault by penetration and one charge of sexual assault at a hearing in December; offences took place in Cardiff in November last year; warning: this article contains a victim account of sexual assault

Fiji's Api Ratuniyarawa during the Autumn International match at Principality Stadium, Cardiff in 2021
Image: Api Ratuniyarawa has been jailed after admitting a series of sexual offences

Fiji international rugby player Api Ratuniyarawa has been sentenced to two years and 10 months in prison for a series of sexual offences.

Ratuniyarawa, 37, admitted two counts of assault by penetration and one charge of sexual assault at a hearing in December in relation to three young women.

The Fiji lock had been due to feature on the bench for the Barbarians in their match against Wales at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on November 4 2023.

Cardiff Crown Court previously heard the offences took place between October 31 and November 2 last year.

Ratuniyarawa, who lives in Northamptonshire, denied two further charges of sexual assault relating to one of the three women.

The court previously heard the father-of-four had been without a club since the summer when Premiership side London Irish went into receivership.

The sentencing hearing was told Ratuniyarawa had travelled to Cardiff ahead of the Barbarians match, "to attend media commitments and training for the fixture".

Prosecuting, Heath Edwards said "the defendant appears to have spent many of his nights socialising" in the week prior to the game.

The prosecution said Ratuniyarawa attended the Revolution bar in Cardiff on the evenings of October 31, November 1 and 2. The court was shown CCTV footage of all three incidents from the bar's VIP area.

One of his victims, who is a student in the city, read her personal impact statement in court.

"My attack came out of the blue. It was sudden, shocking," she said. "I feel degraded, embarrassed and humiliated. I still do.

She said the incident had "started not just to impact [her] but [her] family".

"I should be excited to be going out with my friends, but I can't stop thinking about what has happened," she added. "He's ruined my life by what he's done, and I feel like I'm in my own personal hell."

She told the court she had been "such an independent person" prior to the incident.

"I couldn't shower until I'd been examined and all I wanted to do was wash that man off me," she said.

"This man had his whole career ahead of him, and such a high-profile person. He did this to me."

In mitigation, Ruth Smith KC said the defendant would like to apologise for his actions but that he had "limited recollection" of the incidents.

Ms Smith told the court Ratuniyarawa had "never drunk that much before in his entire life".

"This incident fell at a time of upheaval in the person life of the defendant," she added.

"He was without employment. He is a gentlemen that supports not only his immediate family financially, but a range of others financially. And it resulted in a situation of stress for him," Ms Smith said.

The court heard the defendant had been described "by those that run Fiji Rugby as a dedicated and valuable asset".

"He knows his legacy is forever tarnished with behaviour that is reflected in these counts," Ms Smith added.

"He has not only let himself down, his family, but also his country in respect of his behaviour."

Judge Tracey Lloyd-Clarke also granted a restraining order of three years in relation to one of the victims.

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