Four people attacked following a concert at Gibbston in
February have been left emotionally and psychologically
scarred, with one believing her husband was ''going to be
killed in front of her eyes''.
In the Queenstown District Court yesterday, Judge Michael
Turner sentenced Simon John Windle (34), lineman, of Gore, to
12 months' home detention and ordered him to pay $10,000 in
emotional harm and reparation payments to his victims, Warren
and Irene Thompson and David and Sue Merry.
He had previously admitted injuring Mrs Merry with intent,
assaulting Mr and Mrs Thompson with intent and assaulting Mr
Merry, all on February 15.
Defence counsel Bill Dawkins said regardless of ''which team
you're on, this is serious offending'', but sought for Judge
Turner to sentence on the purpose and principles of the Act,
rather than the sense of ''outrage''.
''It's a case which does stir up the emotion when one reads
it,'' Mr Dawkins said.
''There is no defence ... but he was almost in a world of his
own the way he acted that particular day.
''[It was] inexplicable behaviour [but] he's done everything
he can since.''
Judge Turner read excerpts from the victim impact statements,
which spoke of the long-lasting effects the attack had on
Windle had attended an outdoor concert and had consumed about
a litre of bourbon ''mixed with another substance''.
Before the incidents, he went to the toilets and consumed a
cannabis cigarette with an unknown male.
While cannabis was detected in his system, it was
''possible'' he was also affected by a synthetic substance,
given his behaviour.
Mr and Mrs Thompson, aged 70 and 69 respectively, of Dunedin,
were travelling towards Dunedin about 6pm, pulling off the
state highway to adjust a load on their trailer.
Windle was seen ''staggering'' down the middle of the road in
traffic, shouting and gesturing as he went.
Mr Thompson was concerned for his safety and suggested he sit
down out of harm's way.
After inquiring what his religion was and ''muttering
something about Allah'', Windle began punching Mr Thompson,
who suffers from chronic arthritis, about the head and face
and pushed him into the driver's side door of his car with
sufficient force to dent the panel.
Mrs Thompson got out of the car and told Windle to stop. He
then began punching her with such force she was knocked over
the tow bar on to the road.
Both suffered bruising to their faces, arms and legs.
Mr Thompson said he was ''deeply affected'' by the incident
and was particularly distressed at seeing his wife of 50
years attacked, being unable to assist her, saying he felt
''like a 4-year-old boy''.
For Mrs Thompson, the most significant trauma was
psychological. She said she still saw Windle's face in her
''Maybe one day this person will be a 70-year-old man and not
enjoying good health. He may then recall how it feels to be
set upon by a 34-year-old alcohol-fuelled idiot,'' Mrs
Thompson's statement said.
After running from the Thompsons, Windle encountered Mr and
Mrs Merry, of Christchurch, who are in their 50s.
After swinging at Mr Merry, who ducked but fell over, he
turned his attention to Mrs Merry, punching her ''at least
once'' to the face.
Windle was restrained by security staff and others, but Mrs
Merry suffered injuries including a broken eye socket,
requiring surgery to have a titanium plate and screws
inserted, and risked losing the sight in her right eye.
She suffered ongoing numbness and pressure. She had been told
the nerves would ''hopefully'' regenerate and normal
sensation would return in time.
''It's still hard to comprehend going from having enjoyed a
great concert at a wonderful setting ... to being violently
attacked and terrorised,'' Mrs Merry's statement said.
When spoken to by police, Windle could recall nothing after
going to the bathroom.
A presentence report indicated his risk of reoffending was
low. However, his risk of harming others was ''medium''.
Alcohol use or abuse was ''probable'', given he drank to get
drunk most weekends, but he had since sought help for that,
Judge Turner said.
''It's unfortunate there needed to be four victims of a
violent outburst before you came to the realisation you
needed to do something about your drinking problem.''
Judge Turner believed Windle's remorse was genuine and
mitigating factors included his willingness to engage in a
restorative justice programme and money made available to
make emotional harm and reparation payments.
But the attacks were viewed seriously, given their unprovoked
nature and the victims' ages and because he attacked the head
Taking aggravating and mitigating factors into account, Judge
Turner said the starting point was 37 months' imprisonment.
''On one hand, the extremely violent nature of your attacks
against vulnerable, innocent and elderly members of the
community calls for a [strong] response.
''What persuaded me to grant you home detention is the fact
that you have not previously appeared before the court ...
you're willing to deal with issues of drugs and alcohol
Windle was sentenced to 12 months' home detention for
injuring Mrs Merry with intent and ordered to pay her $5500
in emotional harm reparation.
For the attacks on Mr and Mrs Thompson, he was sentenced to
two months' home detention and ordered to pay each $2000, and
for assaulting Mr Merry he was sentenced to two months' home
detention and ordered to pay $500.
All home detention sentences were concurrent and all money
was to be paid by 4pm yesterday.
Judge Turner also ordered standard and special release
conditions, including not to possess or consume alcohol or
drugs other than those prescribed and to attend and complete
any treatment, counselling or programme as directed.