Violent attack on half-sister

A judge says there is no explanation for the "cowardly conduct" of a Dunedin hairdresser who assaulted her half-sister last year.

For the attack on June 26, 2021, Melissa Rose Newton (22) faced two charges of injuring with intent.

Her co-offender, Kadi Dawn Uren (24), faced a single charge of assault in relation to the same incident.

In the Dunedin District Court this week, Judge Michael Turner said what was clear was "what happened that night was unprovoked violence".

The two victims were at the Queens Gardens traffic lights when Newton, Uren and some associates pulled up alongside them in a ute.

Yelling ensued between the cars, before one of the people in the ute threw a bottle at the victim’s car, which smashed the driver-side window.

Both cars drove away but met up again at The Warehouse car park in South Dunedin.

While Newton’s half-sister intended to ask why a bottle had been thrown, instead Newton and Uren got out of the ute.

After some words were exchanged, Newton reached through the broken window to punch her half-sister in the head.

"She was punched five times in total," the court heard.

The cars parted ways again but met up for the third time outside Newton’s half-sister’s address.

Judge Turner said "[Newtown] approached [her] half-sister, verbally abused her and challenged her to a fight" before pouring a drink over her head.

"You struck your half-sister over the head with a bottle and knocked her out", causing her to fall to the ground, he said.

Her friend went to help her, but was punched by Uren and fell herself.

While on the ground, she was kicked numerous times before Newton, Uren and their friends left the scene.

As a result of the attack, Newton’s half-sister required hospital treatment for a large split to the top of her head that had to be glued together, a concussion that lasted for weeks, and cuts and bruises to her head and face.

The second victim, due to also being dragged along the ground, had chunks of hair missing, a bruised ankle and scratches to her neck and back.

Newton’s half-sister was "considerably affected emotionally", and had considered moving because Newton knew where she lived.

She was "very sad" the assault happened, and said it had set back emerging familial reconciliation.

Judge Turner noted there were videos and photos circulated on social media after-the-fact, where the defendants appeared to be laughing.

Counsel for Newton, Brian Kilkelly, said the incident was the result of "a toxic mix of alcohol, prescription medication and relationship rivalry".

Newton accepted the "dangerous, unsavoury incident" could have been worse, and was remorseful for the assault.

She had since changed her lifestyle, by abstaining from alcohol and disassociating from those friends, and was focused on her physical and mental health.

The judge sentenced her to 10 months’ home detention.

Uren had since moved to Invercargill and stopped associating with the people involved as well, counsel Noel Rayner said.

She only involved herself because she thought it was unfair when the second victim intervened, but accepted it went beyond self-defence.

Uren was sentenced to one month community detention, with a weekend curfew.



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