Crossbow threat 'entirely out of character'

A young man was behaving "entirely out of character" when he "lost the plot" and pointed a crossbow at his former partner after discovering she had been in a relationship with one of his friends, a Dunedin judge said yesterday.

Philip Richard Bennington, 24, threatened to kill the young woman if she called the police and told her he would "hunt her and rip her to pieces" if she gave evidence against him.

And, while pointing the crossbow at her from a distance of about 1m, he asked her what damage she thought he could do with the weapon.

Bennington was before Judge Stephen Coyle in the Dunedin District Court for sentence on charges of threatening to kill, unlawfully possessing an offensive weapon and wilfully damaging a wall.

He punched a hole in a wall during the incident early last Christmas Eve.

Public defender Andrew Dawson told the judge the defendant acknowledged to police he had "lost the plot" when he behaved as he did.

The large number of references all assessed Bennington as a person of integrity, with a good work ethic who had been totally honest about the offending.

Judge Coyle said it was "quite clear" to him, the defendant's reaction, when finding out his partner had been involved with somebody else, was "entirely out of character" and that Bennington was not someone who had a problem with violence or who normally behaved badly towards women.

"But it was an act of violence," the judge said.

The young woman would not have known the crossbow was not loaded and, given the threats just made to her, she would have been very frightened.

But he accepted the appropriate sentence was community work and, on each charge, sentenced Bennington to concurrent terms of 100 hours.


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