Hillsong Church assault suspects plead guilty to harming teen victims

Two men from Sydney, Australia, appeared before the court on Sept. 5 and pleaded guilty to occasioning actual bodily harm against three people after a Hillsong Church service earlier this year.

(WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / Matt Malone)Inside Hillsong Church, Sydney. 27 January 2007.

On April 28, Joshua Saininaivalu, 23, was outside Hillsong Church's branch in Waterloo at around 9:40 pm with three other male friends to meet his girlfriend after the 'Youth Night' service. They were "significantly intoxicated," according to police fact sheets.  While the parishioners were leaving the church, he punched 18-year-old Roysen Wells in the mouth, causing his lips to bleed, News.com.au detailed.

"Who's next, who wants to have a go?" Saininaivalu taunted three other young male parishioners.

Another man, identified by The Sydney Morning Herald as 21-year-old youth leader Caleb Matenga, the brother of Saininaivalu's girlfriend, tried to calm the situation down and prevent the assailants from coming near the teens but he instead ended up injured. Sakeasi Vaka Maile, one of the drunk men, punched him on the face and knocked him to the ground and caused his tooth to crack as it made contact with the concrete.

Aside from that, Maile attacked security guard Ashil Nader from behind and landed a punch on his jaw. The guard fell unconscious for a few minutes and was brought to the hospital when his mouth started to froth. Doctors found that he had facial bruising, sinus fracture, and brain hemorrhage.

Saininaivalu was arrested and told police that he was just reacting to churchgoers who were telling him to keep quiet while waiting for his girlfriend outside Hillsong Church. He said he was riled up and pushed a parishioner, and that somebody allegedly hit him in the head before he was able to punch back.

On Tuesday, Saininaivalu faced the Central Local Court, where he and Maile pleaded guilty to the assault charge against them. Magistrate Les Mabbutt said what the young men did at Hillsong Church was a serious offense.

The case of the Hillsong Church assault has already been referred to the Downing Centre Local Court, which will decide on the sentence against Saininaivalu and Maile.