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Rugby league player jailed for 8 months

FRANCE-based rugby league player Greg Bird was given a minimum eight-month jail sentence today for recklessly wounding his American girlfriend with a glass in a domestic dispute at Sydney last year.

Bird formerly played for the Cronulla Sharks in Australia's National Rugby League, but was released in January. He was initially signed by Bradford Bulls in the English Super League, but was denied a British visa and now plays for Catalans Dragons in French rugby league.

The 25-year-old Bird appealed the sentence later today and was granted bail. He will be allowed to return to France until the appeal is heard in August.

Bird's partner, Katie Milligan, who suffered a fractured eye socket and cuts to her eye at the former international's Cronulla apartment last August, is still in a relationship with Bird and is living with him in the south of France.

Milligan refused to make a formal statement to police and both she and her parents provided the court with character references for Bird, who was found guilty of the wounding offense and of lying to police in April.

In Sydney's Downing Centre Local Court today, Magistrate Roger Clisdell sentenced Bird to a maximum of 16 months in prison for the attack on Milligan, with a non-parole period of eight months.

"It was a despicable act and most un-Australian," Clisdell said in his sentencing remarks.

Bird's lawyer Leslie Nicholls asked the magistrate to note that Milligan had never complained to police about the incident. But the judge said that was not unusual in cases of domestic violence.

Bird was also fined 5,000 Australian dollars ($4,000) for making a false accusation and placed on a three-year good behavior bond. He originally told police his former friend and roommate Brent Watson had attacked Milligan.


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