NRL player Russell Packer has been left stunned and behind bars after being sentenced to two years' jail for a drunken assault in which he repeatedly punched a man and stomped on his head.
While the sentence shocked the Newcastle recruit, and his legal team and supporters, it's been labelled too lenient by an advocate of tougher measures to combat the type of alcohol-induced violence that left three young men seriously injured in Sydney over the past month.
Packer's barrister lodged an immediate appeal against the two-year fixed jail term handed to the 24-year-old yesterday but had his bid for bail rejected by Magistrate Greg Grogan.
Mr Grogan said he was concerned about community safety if Packer was released and he appeared to have been a ticking time bomb on the night of the assault.
In sentencing Packer, Mr Grogan said the public was sick and tired of the type of behaviour shown by the Kiwi international that night.
The father of two kissed his partner as he was placed in handcuffs and led out of the Downing Centre Local Court.
Packer pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actually bodily harm and failing to leave a venue.
The court heard he was kicked out of the Chambers Hotel in Sydney's Martin Place at 1.30am on November 23 last year because he was too drunk.
In Martin Place, the 112-kilogram prop argued with another man after being accused of stealing cigarettes from a woman sitting nearby.
Mr Grogan told the court Packer punched the man in the face, causing him to fall and hit his head on the ground.
Packer punched the man several more times, then stomped on his head, the court heard, leaving the victim with two fractured facial bones.
Mr Grogan labelled Packer's behaviour "cowardly and deplorable" and said the result could have been much worse.
"The person fell to the ground and luckily it would appear did not suffer those injuries seen in media reports as of late," Mr Grogan said.
But a victims' rights campaigner labelled the sentence "too lenient".
Enough is Enough spokesman Ken Marslew said the young man assaulted by Packer was lucky to have lived.
"The judiciary is failing in its duty of care to society," he said.
Mr Marslew also accused Premier Barry O'Farrell of wasting an election mandate to curb alcohol-related violence in the state by "sitting on his hands".
Newcastle Knights football general manager Warren Smiles said the club would support Packer and his family through the court process.
The NRL refused to register Packer's contract with the Knights on December 6 and he had been stood down from all club duties.
Packer was recruited by Newcastle from the New Zealand Warriors for the 2014 season. AAP