Young 'leader' in court over bar assault

A young woman described as a leader in her community attacked another woman with blows to the head after a verbal exchange in a central-city Dunedin bar.

Gabrielle Etevise Tupu (20) admitted her involvement with a second woman in attacking the victim on August 25 and asked to be discharged without conviction.

But Judge Dominic Flatley said incidents in which people were attacked ''for no apparent reason'' were a significant problem in Dunedin and could not be brushed aside.

Counsel Anne Stevens told the judge Tupu was described as a leader in her community.

She was of otherwise good character, was extremely remorseful and had gone through the restorative justice process.

The victim, who had initially wanted Tupu punished, now supported the application for a discharge without conviction.

She said she did not want Tupu's plans for a career in the air force to be jeopardised.

Tupu had paid $650 reparation.

Prosecutor Sergeant Chris George opposed the application, saying the offending was not minor.

The charge carried a maximum penalty of five years' jail.

Police believed the defendant had failed to establish that the consequences of conviction would be out of all proportion to the seriousness of the offending, Sgt George said.

Judge Flatley agreed the starting point would have to be imprisonment, given there were two attackers and several blows to the head.

The court might consider an electronically monitored sentence or ''the top end'' of a term of community work.

But he accepted Tupu was remorseful, of otherwise good character and her actions were out of character.

He also acknowledged the positive outcome of the restorative justice process but said he was not convinced it would be appropriate to grant a discharge without conviction.

Although a one-off incident, it was serious violence of the type which was far too prevalent in Dunedin late at night, Judge Flatley said.

He sentenced Tupu to 300 hours' community work and acknowledged she had paid $650 reparation.

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