It might sound unlikely - the victim of a "king hit" who
suffered life-threatening injuries ends up incarcerated while
his attacker avoids jail time.
But that is exactly what happened in Auckland District Court
Napier labourer Mathew Papa, 22, was out drinking at Cassette
Nine on Auckland's Vulcan Lane on February 7 when he took
exception to another reveller's actions.
Papa blindsided the 25-year-old victim with a punch to the
right side of his face, knocking him unconscious on the
The DJ saw the fracas and alerted the bar manager who in turn
They followed the fleeing offender down Queen St and got in
touch with police who were able to trace him via CCTV.
When officers caught up with him, Papa was in a car park
trying to change out of his bloody clothes in a bid to evade
Meanwhile, the victim was being rushed to hospital with
Though police argued Papa should be sentenced to a term of
imprisonment, Judge Russell Collins decided that unlikely
have a positive effect.
Despite two previous assaults on his criminal record - one
against police - Papa was given 320 hours community work and
18 months intensive supervision.
The twist came when defence lawyer John Kovacevic spoke about
his client's efforts to organise a restorative justice
It could not go ahead because the victim was found to be an
overstayer and after recovering in hospital, he was
imprisoned, Mr Kovacevic said.
After the hearing police said the victim was understood to
still be in the country but could not be located to complete
a victim impact statement.
Judge Collins said the sentencing had caused him "a huge
amount of concern" and he was far from confident he was
applying the right sentence.
"As a father of three sons, one of the greatest fears I had
was them being out at night and being king hit in a cowardly
and thuggish way by someone like you," he said.
Nevertheless, the judge said he could not ignore the fact
Papa had stable employment as a driller and worked hard.
Judge Collins was keen to stress the seriousness of the
charge of injuring by an unlawful act.
"You caused bodily harm to someone and if he had died, you
would have been guilty of manslaughter," he said. "This was a
cowardly, brutal act."
Police said the victim made a full recovery.