Punching swearer brings $500 fine

A Dunedin father who punched a man for swearing at an under-10 rugby match says he regrets how he tried to protect his family from "disgusting" bad language.

Robert Asola Taua (58) was yesterday convicted of assault and ordered to pay a $500 fine for twice punching Donald John McLean at Kettle Park on July 31.

Judge Mary O'Dwyer said Taua's reaction to Mr McLean's "poor behaviour" was unjustified and wrong - particularly in front of children - and the conviction would remind him such actions were unacceptable.

Outside the court, Taua said the judge was right to punish him for the "very regrettable" punches he threw at the match between the Dunedin Rugby Club and Zingari Richmond teams.

The father of five did not want Mr McLean to use "very, disgusting, very bad" language around his children, but he accepted he should have stopped before he reacted.

"Abusing the referee, using bad language, I think it sets a bad example.

But so does punching someone, and I am ashamed of what I did, and for not setting a good example."

Keen to apologise personally to Mr McLean, he said the incident was a "very strong" lesson to him and to anyone else who forgot why they followed junior sport.

"Our children are there. It is supposed to be safe.

"We should not make our children feel frightened."

Police said Mr McLean (39) walked from the east side of Kettle Park, where the Zingari Richmond supporters were, to stand behind the Dunedin supporters, including Taua.

Mr McLean swore at the referee, yelling abuse as he walked on to the field.

The referee warned him and asked him to leave, but he continued swearing from the sideline.

Taua asked him to stop but Mr McLean responded with more offensive language.

Taua punched him on the jaw.

Mr McLean called him a coward, and he again punched him on the jaw before walking away.

The police were called, and he admitted what he had done.

In court yesterday, defence lawyer Sarah Saunderson-Warner said a restorative justice meeting had not been possible because of the attitude of the victim, who indicated he would only take part if Taua brought $5000.

Taua regretted the incident and could pay $50 a week towards a fine, but did not want to lose family time to a sentence of community service.

Prosecutor Sergeant Tom Scouller did not seek reparation.

Judge O'Dwyer noted Taua had two convictions from more than a decade ago, but that he was otherwise of good character and it was now unusual for him to behave this way.

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