Api Ratuniyarawa: Barbarians player jailed for sexual assault

Api Ratuniyarawa of Fiji playing in the World Cup 2019 Group D game between Fiji and Uruguay at Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium
Image caption,Api Ratuniyarawa has been capped 33 times by Fiji and played in the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan

By Iolo Cheung & James McCarthy

BBC News

A Fijian rugby player has been jailed after sexually assaulting three women in a Cardiff city centre bar.

Api Ratuniyarawa, 37, admitted two counts of assault by penetration and one of sexual assault at Revolution between 31 October and 2 November 2023.

He was sentenced to two years and 10 months at Cardiff Crown Court on Tuesday.

Ratuniyarawa, of The Orchard, Kislingbury, Northamptonshire, will serve up to half in custody.

The rest will be served in the community.

The court heard the three attacks happened independently of each other, on three separate nights in the same bar.

The rugby player, pictured being led from Cardiff Crown Court on Tuesday, admitted sexually assaulting three women
Image caption,The rugby player, pictured being led from Cardiff Crown Court on Tuesday, admitted sexually assaulting three women

All incidents were caught on CCTV, and none of the victims – who were all 19 – knew Ratuniyarawa or each other beforehand.

Heath Edwards, prosecuting, said that dad-of-four Ratuniyarawa had been in Cardiff during the week leading up to the game on 4 November, and “appears to have spent many of his nights socialising” with teammates.

In the early hours of Tuesday, 31 October, he assaulted his first victim in the VIP area of the bar, where he “cornered her [and] put his hands down her trousers”.

Mr Edwards added: “She was clearly resisting the defendant and trying to move away from him.”

The second victim was assaulted in the early hours of 2 November, where Mr Edwards said that Ratuniyarawa had touched the woman’s breast and bottom.

She had “tried to move away,” he said, but Ratuniyarawa was “significantly stronger than she was”.

‘He’s ruined my life by what he’s done’

Following the incident the woman told door staff, who asked Ratuniyarawa to leave.

The following night Ratuniyarawa attacked a third woman, again in the VIP area of the bar, in a “painful” assault which left her “bleeding”.

Mr Edwards said the victim told him to stop “several times”, and that “he only stopped when others at the bar intervened”.

Api Ratuniyarawa
Image caption,He was sentenced to two years and 10 months at Cardiff Crown Court

One woman read out her victim impact statement in court, describing the attack on her as “humiliating”.

Her studies at university had been affected, and she now often became “anxious and stressed” when she went out.

She added that she was also suffering from hair loss, difficulty eating and sleeping.

“This is the worst possible thing he could have done to me,” she said.

“He’s ruined my life by what he’s done.”

One victim said she could no longer watch rugby or wear the clothes she wore that night without thinking of the assault.

Ruth Smith, defending, said Ratuniyarawa wished to apologise to his victims and he recognised the “shame that he has brought to himself and his family”.

Ms Smith said the amount of alcohol the defendant had drunk was “highly significant”.

The court heard the assaults had effectively ended his career.

A picture of the outside of Revolution bar in Cardiff city centre
Image caption,The attacks happened at the Revolution bar in Cardiff city centre

“He knows his legacy is forever tarnished,” said Ms Smith.

Sentencing, Judge Tracey https://katasungokong.com Lloyd-Clarke said: “All the offences are aggravated because you were under the influence of alcohol, and I bear in mind physical injury was caused as well as the psychological injury that was caused on all three occasions.

“For all three offences I note you stopped only because others intervened.”

Ratuniyarawa was given a restraining order against one woman for three years, and has also been placed on the sex offenders register.

Ratuniyarawa - pictured at an earlier court appearance - has now been placed on the sex offenders register
Image caption,Ratuniyarawa – pictured at an earlier court appearance – has now been placed on the sex offenders register

He had been a forward for London Irish before the club filed for administration when it was suspended from the Premiership.

He was named in the squad for the Barbarians – the team that brings together players from different clubs for several fixtures each year – to play against Wales on 4 November before being charged.

The lock, who has also played for Northampton Saints and in France, was hoping his appearance for the invitational side would lead to a contract with a new club, but has since been forced to apply for benefits.

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