Southland lawyer avoids conviction after assault

Allan Tobeck (left) assaulted his fiancee after she slapped him. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Allan Tobeck (left) assaulted his fiancee after she slapped him. Photo: Peter McIntosh
A Southland barrister who downed a bottle of spirits, grabbed his fiancee by the hair and slapped her in the face has escaped conviction.

Allan Stewart Pierson Tobeck (52) appeared in the Dunedin District Court yesterday, where he admitted an assault which took place on November 24 last year.

Court documents said the defendant, who was admitted to the bar in 1999, was ''quite intoxicated'' after drinking liquor at his partner's Dunedin home.

He was helped to bed by the woman - who also works as his personal assistant - but the serenity was brief.

At 9pm she became upset one of Tobeck's friends had taken dogs from the home without telling her.

The lawyer came downstairs to find her using his phone to call the man.

When he tried to retrieve it from his fiancee, she smashed it on the ground.

Tobeck went back to bed but his slumber was again interrupted.

The woman repeatedly went into the room to abuse him and requested someone come to collect Tobeck and take him away.

When the defendant's friend arrived, things spiralled further.

The woman smashed a glass on the floor and then shut herself in the kitchen.

Tobeck was helped down the driveway and his fiancee responded by throwing a vase, which shattered as it hit the ground.

She followed it up by hurling a bottle at a car and when she reached Tobeck, she slapped him in the face. When she turned to walk back to the house, the defendant responded.

Tobeck grabbed her hair with one hand and slapped her with the other.

''Don't f ... ing hit me,'' he said.

The victim called police and they arrived at the address to find the defendant ''slumped in the front seat heavily intoxicated''.

The woman was also charged with assault, but received police diversion.

A condition of that was attending a Salvation Army programme in Invercargill, which she completed alongside Tobeck.

Counsel Philip Hall QC said the activity had been a form of restorative justice between the couple and they still planned to marry.

The woman, he said, felt ''somewhat victimised'' by the criminal prosecution continuing against her partner without her backing.

Mr Hall said the level of violence inflicted by Tobeck was low and the case did not meet the public-interest test.

He suggested the Crown was only pursuing the prosecution because the defendant was a lawyer.

Accordingly the charge should be dismissed, he argued.

Judge Thomas Ingram agreed the violence involved was ''minimal'' but refused to throw the charge out.

However, he ruled Tobeck should not have his record marked by the incident.

The judge called it an ''archetypal case'' for a discharge without conviction.

''[It was] not a case of someone setting out to inflict injury ... simply a reaction to an assault,'' he said.

Tobeck cannot boast a perfect record, however.

He was convicted of drink-driving 28 years ago.

rob.kidd@odt.co.nz'

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