Top golfer high on acid clubbed friend

Ciaran Sim aimed half a dozen blows at a former flatmate during a "bizarre" incident. PHOTO: ROB...
Ciaran Sim aimed half a dozen blows at a former flatmate during a "bizarre" incident. PHOTO: ROB KIDD
One of the country’s top golfers, who attacked his flatmate with a club while high on LSD, is now free to pursue his dreams of sporting stardom.

Ciaran James Batchelor Sim, 23, appeared in the Dunedin District Court this week, where he was discharged without conviction on charges of assault with a weapon and possessing a class A drug.

Judge David Robinson said he reached the conclusion "easily".

"My concern is that if I were to convict you, there would be a substantial impediment for you to achieve what you’re truly capable of," he said.

Counsel Ron Mansfield KC said Sim had recently played against, and beaten, some of the nation’s best professional golfers.

In a recent tournament, the defendant outperformed New Zealand’s best amateur player and website ranks him at 103rd in the country by handicap.

Among the 57 people who wrote references on Sim’s behalf were some of those leading players, the judge noted.

ON April 4, 2020, though, Sim made what he called "the worst mistake of his life".

After taking two tabs of LSD — commonly known as acid — Sim’s erratic conduct created friction with his flatmates.

"[You] displayed the most bizarre of behaviours," the judge said.

When a flatmate went to Sim’s room to make peace over an earlier incident, the defendant took one of his clubs and inflicted a glancing blow to the victim’s back.

He aimed another four or five swings but caused no serious harm to the man, the court heard.

A jury found Sim guilty of the charge but acquitted him of more serious crimes; he pleaded guilty to possessing the LSD before the trial began.

Mr Mansfield said his client had since left Otago to study at Victoria University of Wellington.

He had written apology letters to his former flatmates and paid them each an undisclosed sum.

"Over four years, he’s not put a foot wrong," Judge Robinson said.

He underscored the irony of Sim’s choice of weapon, given his application for discharge was based on his golfing endeavours, but said the consequences of a conviction to the athlete were potentially devastating.

Sim had sporting trips to the US and UK lined up this year, as well as a place in the Australian PGA qualifying school.

A criminal record would likely result in significant visa restrictions, the judge said.

He was keen to point out that his decision was not emblematic of the court showing leniency to athletes.

"I’m all too aware there can be a perception there’s a two-tiered justice system: one for those who excel in sport and another for those that lead less exciting lives," Judge Robinson said.

"The way I view professional sport is the way I view other persons aspiring to work in any occupation."

The court heard Sim was expected to turn professional in 12-18 months.