Man who assaulted partner denied discharge

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 days later.

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.