Tenant let off after Wanaka landlord suffers chemical burn

The woman appeared at the Hutt Valey District Court today. Photo: justice.govt.nz
The woman appeared at the Hutt Valey District Court today. Photo: justice.govt.nz
A disgruntled tenant who gave her Wanaka landlord a chemical burn by pouring bleach into her shampoo has been let off without punishment.

Aida Rolon (29) appeared in the Hutt Valley District Court this afternoon where she pleaded guilty to wounding with reckless disregard for safety.

She had been renting a room in her landlord's home in Wanaka since October last year, but moved out at the end of April due to "unrest in the household", a summary of facts said.

Judge Tim Black said in court today that Rolon and the victim's mother, who also lived in the house, experienced conflict during that time, which included incidents where the other woman allegedly ruined Rolon's clothing and other items with "gratuitous use of bleach".

"In effect, you've decided to take your revenge by ruining something of hers," Judge Black said.

Before moving out, Rolon went into the shared bathroom and poured hospital grade disinfectant bleach into the shampoo and conditioner bottles in the shower.

"You say, and I accept, that you didn't have any real appreciation that anyone would use that shampoo because you thought that as soon as someone put it onto their hand they would smell the bleach and know it had been tampered with," Judge Black said.

But the landlord did not notice the smell, and ended up suffering a chemical burn to her eye.

She had an underlying medical condition which left her with damaged nerves around the left side of her face, meaning she could not completely close her left eyelid.

"Injuries to her left eye, that would be minor to most people, seriously risk the permanent eyesight in the victim's left eye," the summary of facts said.

The victim's chemical burn was treated professionally over more than two weeks using intensive ointment and antibiotics to save her sight.

"The eye has successfully recovered and it appears there is no long-term damage as the injury was caught early," the summary said.

Judge Black said mitigating factors of the offending included Rolon's previous good character, her guilty plea and  acknowledgement that a reparation payment should be made.

He said a conviction could put her at risk of deportation to her home country of Argentina, which carried with it the risk of contracting Covid-19.

The consequences of a conviction would be out of proportion with the gravity of the offending, he said.

He discharged Rolon without conviction, but ordered her to pay $400 in reparation to the victim.

 

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