Teen who stabbed, bit boyfriend avoids jail

A Dunedin teenager who stabbed her boyfriend in the leg with a shard from a broken vase after an altercation about cigarettes and coffee has avoided jail.

Keilah Penman (18) was sentenced in the Dunedin District Court yesterday on a charge of assault with a weapon.

She was visibly upset as she stood in the dock.

Judge Michael Crosbie said Penman had spent the night with her boyfriend at her home address and grew angry in the morning because she wanted a cigarette and some coffee, and there was none.

She ‘‘got in the victim’s face’’ with closed fists and screamed at him, then pushed him causing to fall over a coffee table and break the vase. She then bit him in the shoulder.

"He told you he could not be around you if you were going to bite him,’’ Judge Crosbie said.

The victim pushed Penman, who fell to the floor, and grabbed a 15cm shard and stabbed him in the right thigh. The shard caused a deep laceration and narrowly missed his femoral  artery.

Defence counsel Steve Turner said despite pleading guilty, Penman had been on the ground and was trying to defend herself at the time.

‘‘Her assessment was there was violence directed towards her.’’

Penman tried to assist her boyfriend straight away, giving him first aid, and a friend later took him to hospital.

Judge Crosbie told Penman she needed to understand how ‘‘potentially very serious’’ the injury could have been.

Although she might have thought she was defending herself, by pleading guilty to the summary of facts she was accepting them, Judge Crosbie said.

The judge said Penman was still very young. ‘‘I think you’ve had rather a lot that’s gone on in our life,’’ he told her.

The Crown prosecutor accepted that a rehabilitative sentence was appropriate, and Judge Crosbie said he took into account the context of the offending when he sentenced her.

He encouraged Penman to ‘‘look for a glimmer that this is not necessarily about punishment’’ and said she could go on to have a ‘‘really good life’’.

‘‘This offending need not define you.’’

Penman was sentenced to 100 hours’ community work, and 18 months’ intensive supervision, with judicial monitoring.