Home detention for brawler

The only man charged over a late-night mass brawl in central Dunedin has been sentenced to seven months' home detention.

When 33-year-old Jordon James Ataria was arrested early on July 13, he was found with knuckle-dusters and charged with possessing a weapon.

Other charges, more serious in nature, were later dropped.

His explanation was viewed with some scepticism by Judge Emma Smith at the Dunedin District Court yesterday.

Defence counsel David More said Ataria had the knuckle-dusters in a bag because earlier that evening he had taken them from a younger man, worried he might use them.

"I'm not prepared to infer you were being altruistic to save someone else," the judge said.

While Ataria's previous convictions were mostly for minor matters, she said, he had been jailed for six years in 2010 for a serious group assault.

The recent violence erupted outside Macs Brew Bar and footage shot from a nearby restaurant showed security staff joining the fracas before police swarmed the scene.

Five people were arrested following a fight in central Dunedin last year. Photo: ODT files
Five people were arrested following a fight in central Dunedin last year. Photo: ODT files

Five people were arrested but the others were given written warnings.

While on bail, more than a month later, Ataria committed the targeted burglary of a rural Dunedin property.

Mr More claimed his client was the "junior member" in the criminal venture.

He was identified by partial finger and footprints at the scene in Mt Cargill Rd, the court heard.

"The other person was more careful," Mr More said.

"He acknowledges he was stupid."

The home-owners, aged in their 70s, were sleeping when Ataria walked up the long driveway to their property.

He bypassed the house and went to some sheds on the edge of the property.

The defendant smashed his way into a tool room through an internal glass door and carried out as much equipment as he could.

There were such rich pickings, Ataria made several trips up and down the driveway to load up his vehicle.

He eventually made off with hand tools, a hedge trimmer, chainsaw, lawn mower, a fertiliser spreader, a circular saw and an antique radio.

Mr More said his client did not benefit financially from the burglary.

Ataria was also sentenced on a charge of aggravated driving while suspended.

Along with the home-detention term, to be served in Queenstown, Judge Smith ordered him to pay $2900 reparation and banned him from driving for a year.


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