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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 March, 2005, 08:11 GMT
Rapper Rule admits club assault
Ja Rule
Ja Rule performing at last week's MTV Australia Video Awards
US rap star Ja Rule has pleaded guilty to punching a man in a nightclub in Toronto, Canada, in June.

He was fined C$1,500 (640), but avoided a more serious charge of assault causing bodily harm, which could have resulted in jail time.

"I just want to say I apologise to the city of Toronto. I am just sorry for my actions," the star told reporters.

He said he was provoked when a crowd in the La Rouge Nightclub shouted "derogatory" comments about him.

The 29-year-old rapper - real name Jeffrey Atkins - was making the film Assault on Precinct 13 in Toronto when the incident took place.

"He felt sorry for what he had done," said his lawyer Steven Surka. "The judge found the conduct of the patrons at the club unacceptable and called it disgraceful.

"They had been taunting him earlier before the assault took place," Mr Surka continued. "It was one punch to the eye of the victim who he believed was insulting him."

"Hopefully this was a one-time outburst," Justice WP Bassel told Mr Atkins. The victim ended up with a black eye and some cuts to the eyelid.

"He is a role model, looked up to by many people," Justice Bassel said. "Clearly what Mr Atkins did was wrong... He has taken responsibility."

Ja Rule, who topped the UK singles charts last November with his single Wonderful, has had a string of hits in recent years, including duets with Jennifer Lopez and Ashanti.

He was nominated for two Grammy awards in 2002 and has appeared in such films as The Fast and the Furious and Scary Movie 3.

Rule was in Sydney last week to perform at the inaugural MTV Australia Video Music Awards.

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