Judge slams drunken offending

Violent drunken offending in Dunedin was unrelenting and something needed to be done about it, Judge Michael Crosbie yesterday told a man who headbutted another man while drunk in a Mosgiel pub earlier this year.

''Judges in Southland and Queenstown have been making the same comments and it does not seem to be abating. It seems to be getting worse.''

The victim suffered a serious nose injury in the incident, which happened after the offender, Samuel William Thomson (25), approached the victim as he danced with a woman Thomson knew, at Crofters Arms Hotel about 1.50am on April 14.

The victim ignored him initially but then asked Thomson why he was staring, and the defendant headbutted him.

Thomson pleaded guilty in September to a charge of injuring Martin John Elliman with reckless disregard.

It did not take much to end a life and that could be done with a headbutt, Judge Crosbie said, sentencing Thomson in the Dunedin District Court yesterday to five months' home detention.

The fact his victim was not more badly injured was a matter of good luck.

The court was seeing too much of that sort of offending from young men. People needed to understand there would be serious consequences for engaging in such conduct, the judge said.

''I can send a message through sentencing that something needs to be done about it.

"Not that long ago, this sort of conduct would have landed you straight in jail, '' he told Thomson.

Thomson spent six weeks in jail after his arrest. He was on bail at the time for another matter that was later dropped, Judge Crosbie said.

From a starting point of 15 months' prison, the judge added three months for previous convictions. He then reduced the sentence to 10 months' prison to give credit for Thomson's efforts since the incident to address his offending.

They included attending counselling and an anti-violence programme, apologising to his victim and the authorities, being in steady employment, having the support of his family and employer and putting money aside to pay any emotional harm reparation ordered.

Judges were entitled to consider community-based sentences on prison sentences below two years, but he was not automatically going to do that because of the message he was trying to send, Judge Crosbie said.

However, he had to take into account the steps Thomson took to address his offending and sentenced him to five months' home detention instead.

Thomson was also ordered to pay $300 emotional harm reparation to his victim.

 

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