Security officer avoids jail

A Dunedin security officer yesterday avoided prison for an unprovoked attack which broke a man's nose and eye socket.

Siosaia M.A. Vaki Vahaakolo (23) was yesterday sentenced in the Dunedin District Court to six months' home detention for intentionally injuring Mesfer Alyami at Pop Bar in the Octagon on November 15.

Vahaakolo was in the bar with an associate about 3am on November 15, when he grabbed the victim by the shirt. The victim, Mr Alyami, pulled away but was punched in the face by the defendant and fell to the ground unconscious.

Vahaakolo punched him again as he lay on the ground, then picked him up by the back of the neck and punched him in the face. The blows left Mr Alyami, who was in Dunedin on a scholarship, with a broken nose and a broken eye socket, which required surgery.

In sentencing, Judge Kevin Phillips noted the seriousness of the attack and was appalled to hear Vahaakolo was still working as a security guard.

The attack had a marked impact on the victim, who no longer felt safe in town, was now afraid of Pacific Islanders and disillusioned about studying in Dunedin. He missed an exam because of the attack and now risked losing his scholarship.

The fact Vahaakolo threw a second and third punch after Mr Alyami hit the ground showed premeditation.

In arguing against Vahaakolo going to prison, public defender Andrew Dawson noted Vahaakolo had no prior convictions and, since the incident, had been having counselling for anger management and alcohol issues.

Vahaakolo had also written a letter of apology to the victim and offered to pay $500.

Judge Phillips said the amount of compensation offered was an ''insult''.

Vahaakolo was sentenced to six months' home detention, 200 hours' community service and ordered to pay $2000 reparation to the victim.