Jailed for 10-second assault

Ten seconds was all it took to change two lives forever.

An 18-year-old, filmed on CCTV in an unprovoked, violent assault on a man he had rendered unconscious, was sentenced yesterday to three years and nine months in jail.

Six months after the attack, the 43-year-old victim is still feeling the effects, and is nervous about going out at night, the Alexandra District Court was told.

Niko William Vernon Reid-Manuel (18), of Cromwell, appeared in court for sentencing on charges of causing grievous bodily harm to Gareth Owen Wynn on February 27 at Cromwell, with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. He was also charged with stealing Mr Wynn's $15 sunglasses after the assault.

Judge Kevin Phillips said Reid-Manuel attacked the victim when the man was lying on the ground, unconscious.

The defendant had punched the victim hard on the jaw and Mr Wynn fell to the ground unconscious ``in what would probably be described by a television programme as similar to a king hit'', Judge Phillips said.

Following that blow, CCTV footage showed a short period of time - 10 seconds - of ``extreme violence'' Reid-Manuel had inflicted on the unconscious man.

``You went out of your way to inflict serious injury. You attacked the victim's head and attacked him when he was out cold.

``... he received several punches to his head and body; he could not offer any defence of his body whatsoever. You moved off and then came back and kicked his head. You returned and then took the sunglasses.''

The victim received fractures to his cheekbone, nose, jaw, eye socket and ribs and numerous cuts and abrasions, Judge Phillips said.

``This type of street violence, unprovoked, gratuitous type of violence, has to be strongly denounced.''

The victim had left a Cromwell hotel that evening and was walking through the town's business centre to where he had left his bike, the judge said. As he walked past the public toilets, the defendant and friend of the defendant challenged him to a fight.

The man walked off but was followed by them and ended up with ``no option'', Judge Phillips said.

After the assault, the defendant did nothing to help the victim. Members of the public came and helped the man, who was admitted to hospital for a night.

Crown counsel Craig Power said it was a ``short but extremely violent attack''.

``It's very important to state the significant effect this had on the victim. He lost his job, has ongoing effects from broken ribs, and is extremely cautious and wary about going out at night. ... he didn't do anything to start this dispute,'' Mr Power said.

The pre-sentence report said the defendant showed little remorse or empathy.

Mr Power said although defence counsel submitted there was no extreme violence: ``if this isn't extreme violence, I don't know what is''.

Counsel Russell Checketts said Reid-Manuel was a first offender.

He was only 18 and his first court appearance was ``at the top of the most serious charges''.

The defendant had been in a fight before this one and ``came off the worst'' and was concerned the same thing would happen again, Mr Checketts said. He accepted the victim's injuries were serious but said fortunately the victim did not require any surgery and was not permanently disabled.

Judge Phillips said the victim was still feeling the effects of the assault in mid-August.

The pre-sentence report said the defendant had some alcohol issues but had a good work record.

There was no other option for sentencing but prison, the judge said.

Reid-Manuel deserved some discount on the length of jail term because of his youth, his good character and his guilty plea.

For stealing the sunglasses, the defendant was convicted and discharged.

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