A French businessman, who hopes to gain New Zealand
residency, was yesterday fined $750 by Judge Michael Turner
in the Queenstown District Court for assaulting his partner
in Queenstown last year.
In January Rene Heremana Malmezac (38), of France, admitted
assaulting Laurence Marie Evelyn Favan following an incident
at their home on December 16.
Ms Favan went to the Queenstown Police Station on Christmas
morning to speak to police about the incident, which had
occurred following an argument.
After Ms Favan returned from New Caledonia, the pair - who
have been in a relationship for 12 years and have children
together - began arguing at Queenstown Airport.
The argument continued on the way to their home and escalated
there. It was alleged Malmezac followed her into the bathroom
and punched or slapped her once to the face, causing a black
eye, which was still visible when she spoke to police nine
Interviewed by police on December 25, Malmezac repeatedly
denied any physical altercation and alleged Ms Favan had
thrown a glass cookie jar at his feet, causing it to smash.
He alleged he had cleaned up the glass and sustained cuts to
his feet, before leaving the property to collect the
children, who were not there at the time.
However, during a disputed facts hearing yesterday, Constable
Craig Gibson said two days after Malmezac was interviewed he
returned to the police station, apologised and said ''we both
know I was lying''.
Since the incident, Malmezac had begun a stopping violence
programme and had been attending relationship counselling.
Malmezac admitted the assault last month before seeking the
disputed facts hearing, denying he punched Ms Favan.
The full interview was played during yesterday's hearing
during which Malmezac claimed Ms Favan was ''lying'' about
being punched in the face.
Judge Turner found Malmezac had punched Ms Favan once, with
his right hand, causing swelling and significant bruising to
her left eye.
Defence counsel Phena Byrne unsuccessfully sought a discharge
without conviction, arguing the consequences of a conviction
would far outweigh the gravity of the offending, particularly
when considering the ''unusual'' circumstances the family
faced with immigration.
Ms Favan and the couple's children were in New Zealand on
Malmezac's visa and there was a risk he would be deported.
If that were to happen, Ms Favan and the children would not
be able to stay in New Zealand on their own.
Judge Turner said he was concerned about Malmezac's attitude.
''You denied ... you were responsible in any way for the
violence which happened on December 16.
''You went to the police station ... [and] you went out of
your way to place the blame on the victim.
''You are much bigger than your partner.
''There was a breach of trust ... she shouldn't expect to
have to be scared of you.
''Instead of love and comfort, she got a punch to the eye.''
Judge Turner said he had ''serious reservations'' about the
genuineness of Malmezac's remorse and questioned whether the
steps he had taken since the incident were aimed at making
himself ''look better'' to the court.
Malmezac was also ordered to pay $132.89 court costs.
Judge Turner said he had considered an emotional harm
payment, but given the relationship appeared to be
continuing, he deemed it unnecessary.