• Kyodo


Former Toyota Verblitz flyhalf Ryota Kabashima was given a suspended prison term Thursday for possessing cocaine.

The Okazaki branch of the Nagoya District Court sentenced the 28-year-old to 14 months in prison, suspended for three years. Prosecutors had demanded an 18-month prison term.

Kabashima’s “addiction to and dependency on cocaine were high,” Judge Hiromitsu Ukai said in handing down the ruling, citing Kabashima’s admission that he had been using the drug for the past three years after obtaining it through his then-teammate Steven Yates, who has also been indicted over cocaine and marijuana possession.

But the judge said Kabashima deserves a suspended sentence, given that he “has shown his remorse and received some social punishment” such as being fired by Toyota Motor Corp.’s Top League rugby team in July.

Kabashima was arrested in June and indicted the following month over possession of about 1 gram of cocaine while in a taxi on April 10 in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture.

Yates, 36, was arrested in June after his name surfaced during the investigation into Kabashima’s case. The branch will hand down a ruling on Yates on Monday.

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