Medical professional avoids domestic assault charge

A prominent medical professional has walked away from a year-long court battle with his clean criminal record and anonymity intact.

The 64-year-old appeared in the Dunedin District Court yesterday where police formally withdrew the charge of assaulting a person with whom he was in a family relationship, which carries a maximum of two years in prison.

Overnight, the defendant had completed the terms of his diversion, the court heard.

On Monday, the matter was scheduled to go to trial before a judge alone but at the 11th hour, counsel Chris Lynch said her client may plead guilty to a lower-level assault.

Judge Jim Large adjourned briefly for counsel to discuss the matter.

When he returned, prosecutor Sergeant Chris George said he had spoken to the district prosecutions manager about the case.

More than a year after the charge was laid, and following multiple appearances in court, police offered the high-profile medical professional diversion.

Sgt George said, had the matter gone to trial, the prosecution case would have been that the defendant used “excessive self-defence” during the incident at the start of 2019.

The victim, who was in the courthouse on Monday, was happy with the outcome, Sgt George told the court.

The couple had broken up after the violent incident and the woman was not interested in obtaining a protection order.

Despite no suppression orders previously being imposed by the court, Sgt George requested both the defendant’s and victim’s names be kept under wraps, to protect the woman involved.

She did not have the same surname as her ex-partner, nor were they from a small community where the case might face extra scrutiny, it was confirmed.

Judge Large asked the Otago Daily Times whether there was an intention to report on the case.

With the ODT refusing to state a definitive position, the judge said: “I’ll make the decision for you.”

All details leading to the identification of the parties were suppressed.

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