Assault and puppy thrown down steps

A teenager who spat on his partner, head-butted her and threw her puppy down some steps has shown a "frightening" level of violence for his age, a judge has said.

Frederick Tamarangi Milton Burns (19) had been before the court twice over earlier attacks on the same woman, the Dunedin District Court heard yesterday.

But the defendant wrote a letter to the judge saying the last month he had spent behind bars awaiting sentencing had been "a wake-up call".

"I’m terrified," Burns wrote.

"I cry myself to sleep."

The judge said he hoped he was not being "conned" by the letter and sentenced the defendant to 12 months intensive supervision to address his violence, alcohol and drug problems.

Burns was convicted of assault, intentional damage, possessing a weapon and two counts of breaching supervision.

"I’m concerned I’m putting people at risk," the judge said.

"But in the end, all I think I’d be doing by sending you to prison for a year or more, which your offending justifies, is sending you to college so you can really learn how to be violent."

In November, after an argument with his 18-year-old partner, Burns smashed the wing mirror of a car.

It was a brief precursor to the violence that followed two months later.

After the defendant and his girlfriend spent the night at his house, there was an argument over a dog lead.

Burns reacted by picking up the 14-week-old Huntaway puppy and throwing it through the front door down some concrete steps.

The woman reacted by punching him in his body.Burns tried to kick her but was restrained by a flatmate.

However, when he was released he advanced on the victim again and pushed her out of the door before grabbing her belongings and throwing them out too.

The defendant picked up a bottle of beer and threw it at his partner’s feet causing her to dodge the flying shards.

Judge Phillips said there were then words of repeated degradation.Burns called her a "slut" and a "whore".

"I find it difficult to understand how a man would call a woman those names," the judge said.

"Yet you’ve done it in the past, and you’re doing it again."

And the ordeal was far from over.

"The defendant spat on the left side of the victim’s face leaving her covered in saliva and phlegm, then head-butted her on the bridge of the nose causing the victim to cry out in pain and stumble backwards down the stairs," court documents said.

Wielding a nail punch, Burns then lunged at the woman, the weapon grazing her left arm.

Eventually she was bundled into a car with the defendant’s flatmates and the puppy and they left while the defendant abused them from the footpath.

"It’s really frightening to see the level of it in a man as young as you," Judge Phillips said.

He told Burns if he breached any of the conditions of his sentence he would be back in court and locked up for at least a year.

The teen was also ordered to pay $304 for the car, $300 to his girlfriend and a protection order was granted in her favour.

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