Boxing champ’s son ‘bashed woman with bare hands’
A MENTALLY ill teenager who allegedly bashed a 64-year-old woman to death with his bare hands had stopped taking his medication two days before the murder.
Imaueli Jone Degei, 18, the son of Fijian boxing champion Niko Degei, is accused of randomly attacking Kristina Kalnic in the driveway of her Carramar unit block on Saturday.
She died at the scene while Degei was arrested a short distance away and charged with murder.
The Daily Telegraph can reveal Degei's mental health problems were exacerbated by the death of his father, who died aged 57 in 2012, and he been known to the community mental health team "for years".
He was discharged from Campbelltown Hospital's Waratah House, a 30-bed psychiatric inpatient unit, last month, into which he has been periodically admitted over the last two years.
Police are investigating what role Degei stopping his medication had in the death.
Family members said Degei was "never the same" after the death of his father and was unable to cope with the pressure of being a talented rugby union player.
His father was remembered as a "great champion" who boxed in the 1980s across Australia and the Pacific.
He won the South Seas heavyweight title in 1983.
Sporting prowess ran in the family and the 130kg teen was plucked from Airds High School to Westfields Sports High, where he played for the Campbelltown Harlequins Rugby Union Club.
He once had dreams of playing for Australia.
Friends said Degei dropped off the radar two years ago after playing in the Illawarra representative team.
Aged 11, he was ordered to step up to the role of "man of the house" and care for his two younger brothers when his father died.
"The pressure on a young boy's shoulders was too much and marked the start of his fight with mental illness," his cousin John said.
"He was gifted, he was big, weighing around 130kg and was a brilliant footballer, but his dad had put too much pressure on him from an early age to be as successful as him. Imaueli is a sensitive soul, he's been cracking under the strain of family and sport demands for years."
Friend Riley Alcorn, 19, said Degei never got in trouble at school.
"He would never hurt a fly, he was well behaved and quiet at school, he never even sat detention once," he said.
"He was raised mostly by his grandparents; he told me there were problems at home but I never asked. He was naturally blessed on the pitch and was surprisingly mobile for a big boy.
"He dreamt of playing for the green and golds (the Wallabies), football was his escape from a tough life early on."
Kalnic lived with her husband in one of the units only metres away from where she died. She took over as the building's strata manager last year.
NSW Health declined to comment on Degei's treatment.