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Anthony Noel Kloosterman (25) was jailed for two and a-half years when he appeared in the Dunedin District Court yesterday on a charge of wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm.
If he had not spoken to police, there was a high likelihood he would have got away with a crime, Judge John Macdonald said.
Kloosterman's injured partner told police she could not recall who her assailant was and officers were ready to shelve the case when the defendant approached them, the court heard.
''It really was a situation where if Mr Kloosterman had not gone in and confessed to everything, he wouldn't even have been charged,'' counsel John Westgate said.
''That shows a huge amount of acceptance, of responsibility and remorse.''
On December 16 last year, the defendant, victim and others were drinking in shearing quarters in Omakau.
He became jealous when she spoke to a male associate and when they returned home at 10pm, he confronted her angrily.
''You pretty much straight away accused her of flirting with the associate,'' the judge said.
On his own admissions, Kloosterman punched his girlfriend several times and dragged her to the ground by her hair.
He kicked her in the body, then grabbed a long, metal shearing implement which he used to smash her around the head and body.
The victim left the house when the defendant had fallen asleep.
She suffered a laceration to her forehead, two black eyes, a swollen nose and various other scrapes and bruises, but she did not require hospital treatment.
The pair met for a restorative justice conference this month at which Kloosterman apologised for his explosion of violence.
''Clearly you're sorry and remorseful for what happened,'' the judge said.
While the victim had not yet forgiven her partner, at the meeting she said she was keen to reconcile ''in an emotionally secure setting''.
''She referred to it as a one-off drunken outburst and there's nothing before me suggest that is not an accurate portrayal of what happened,'' Judge Macdonald said.
However, he noted Kloosterman had three violence convictions from 2010 and 2014, two of which were against women.
The judge noted the injuries the victim suffered in his most recent offending were not the most serious seen by the court, but that was simply good luck.
''Whenever you hit someone in the head with a metal bar, it can have dire consequences,'' he said.
The woman, who was in court to support Kloosterman yesterday, is due to give birth in November.