Conviction would end rugby hopes: Judge

The loss of any possibility of a career as a professional rugby player has saved a young Dunedin man from a conviction for an assault that broke another man's jaw.

Riley Tane McDowall (19) earlier admitted injuring the victim with reckless disregard for his safety.

He was before the Dunedin District Court for sentence yesterday.

The incident happened when McDowall was in the central city celebrating his rugby team's success and the victim made some disparaging remarks. The defendant's response was to punch the other man full in the mouth, knocking out a front tooth, cutting his bottom lip and fracturing his jaw.

Counsel David Robinson said McDowall accepted alcohol was the root cause of the offending and had moderated his drinking. Since it was made a bail condition, he had not used any alcohol.

He was remorseful, had completed 100 hours' voluntary community work and wished to pay emotional harm reparation to the victim.

McDowall had learned "a very hard lesson" about alcohol, Mr Robinson said.

Judge Phillips reminded the defendant alcohol had ruined the careers of international cricketers and rugby players. And he advised McDowall not to drink alcohol at all if he was going to react as he did on the night.

But the judge accepted the consequences of such a conviction for the defendant would be "major" and would end any hopes of him becoming successful or trying to achieve success in his chosen field. While accepting it had been a one punch situation, he said the serious injury caused by the blow to the head was an aggravating factor.

But the consequences of such a conviction would be out of proportion to McDowall's overall culpability, Judge Phillips said, granting a discharge without conviction and ordering payment of $3000 emotional harm reparation.

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