Unprovoked orchard attack was act of ‘betrayal’

An unprovoked attack by a Roxburgh man on his friend and workmate has been labelled an act of "betrayal" by his lawyer.

Bradley Michael Dickson, 29, was charged with injuring with intent to injure and arson following an incident at the orchard where the defendant and victim were working last year.

On the afternoon of September 15, Dickson bought beer from a Roxburgh supermarket before taking it to the accommodation he shared with the 61-year-old victim.

After the two men had been drinking together for a while, the defendant became intoxicated and began speaking aggressively to the victim.

Then, without provocation, he attacked the victim from behind in an assault that led to the victim being struck on the head.

Dickson then set fire to about 30 hay bales positioned around the orchard for frost control purposes.

Fortunately, no other property was destroyed by the fires.

At Dickson’s sentencing in the Alexandra District Court yesterday, counsel Kieran Tohill said the case was a poignant one.

"He knows he’s done his former friend wrong — it’s a betrayal."

He had stopped drinking, and was determined to be "a father that his children can be proud of".

"Without alcohol, he’s not a violent person."

Judge Michael Turner said aggravating factors in the assault were the lack of provocation, the attack to the head and the inflicting of injuries that required medical treatment.

Attacking the victim from behind was a "cowardly" act, and the defendant did not help when the victim began having an asthma attack brought on by the assault.

In mitigation, the defendant had suffered past trauma that caused him to abuse alcohol, and he had demonstrated remorse by writing a letter of apology and paying reparation for the destroyed hay bales.

After accounting for the two months the defendant had already spent in custody, he came to a term of imprisonment of 19 months, which he converted to eight months and two weeks’ home detention.

Judge Turner also sentenced Dickson on a charge of breaching fisheries regulations by gathering more than 12 times the daily limit of oysters.

Dickson was prosecuted by the Ministry for Primary Industries after police found more than 600 dredge oysters in the boot of his car while executing a search warrant at his home on March 14.

He told investigators he had gathered the oysters about 1am that day in the Pounawea area of Owaka.

He was convicted and ordered to pay a $1400 fine and $130 court costs.