Man jailed after subjecting partner to 16-month reign of terror

A Dunedin man responsible for a 16-month reign of terror over his girlfriend viciously assaulted her outside a police station, a court has heard.

Scott James Wreford Kelly (38) appeared in the High Court at Dunedin yesterday, where Justice Cameron Mander jailed him for four years, one month.

The defendant initially faced a charge of attempted murder, but the Crown later offered no evidence and the charge was dismissed. He pleaded guilty to strangulation, four counts of injuring with intent to injure and two of assault in a family relationship.

As the relationship limped towards its bloody conclusion in July 2019, the victim finally summoned up the courage to approach police.

But Kelly would not let that happen.

He got into her vehicle, in the supermarket car park just metres from the Dunedin Central Police Station, and punched her in the face, dislodging her contact lens.

To make his message clear, the defendant continued the blows in the confined space, at one point pulling the victim’s head into his lap to deliver further punches.

The woman was left with a swollen forehead, blurred vision and leaking fluid out of an ear as Kelly left, stressing she should keep her mouth shut.

The spree of violence began in 2018 after the defendant had argued with his partner at a friend’s house, Justice Mander said.

When she got in the car to leave, he bit her on the thigh.

The incident deemed most serious by the judge took place in early 2019 when there was another dispute between the couple.

This time Kelly accused the woman of damaging a friend’s car.

He responded to her denials by placing her in a choke hold from behind.

“As a result the victim passed out from the pressure being applied to her neck and she was lowered to the floor,” court documents said.

“A short time later she came to on the floor and vomited.”

The judge said Kelly’s “heavy” methamphetamine use was undoubtedly a significant factor in the prolonged period of offending.

At its worst, the court heard, the defendant was using half a gram of the class-A substance a day.

The victim said the ordeal had left her “confused, hopeless, isolated, intimidated and ashamed”.

Since she and Kelly had been apart, her life had improved and she hoped Kelly got the help he needed to find some peace, she said.

Justice Mander said the man had a “pervasive pattern of anti-social behaviour”, which stretched back to childhood.

Much of the defendant’s woes were not of his own making, however.

The judge acknowledged a traumatic upbringing marked by family conflict and division, which had had Kelly begin abusing substances at an early age.

A protection order was granted in favour of the victim.

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