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
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.