Man sentenced over assault, lockdown breach

A Waimate man was sentenced in the Oamaru District Court on Wednesday on charges stemming from last year’s Covid-19 lockdown.

Michael Steven Kelly (29), of Waimate, was sentenced for assaulting a female and breaching Level 4 lockdown on April 9 last year. He also admitted driving drunk (third conviction) with a breath alcohol level of 535mcg on October 23 last year.

On March 25 last year in response to the global pandemic, New Zealand entered its first Level 4 lockdown, which remained in place until April 27.

One of the conditions of the lockdown was people were not to travel unless it was essential, and not to come within 2m of another person unless they were members of the same "bubble".

On the afternoon of the offending, the defendant and associates drove from their home address in Waimate to Oamaru.

They were stopped by police, warned for breaching lockdown and told to return home.

Later that day, about 10pm, police received four emergency calls to a rural address in Windsor, 17km inland from Oamaru, from occupants of the home and neighbours, reporting a violent incident. There were concerns about two children, aged 2 and 3, who lived at the property.

The defendant and five associates had arrived at the address to retaliate after an earlier incident involving one of the household members, a 24-year-old male.

There were verbal altercations and fighting, and bricks and pieces of wood were thrown.

The victim, a 48-year-old woman living at the address, tried to intervene in a fight between Kelly and the male. The defendant turned around and head-butted her. The victim fell to the ground and injured her back.

The police arrived a short time later.

Defence counsel Michael de Buyzer said although the matter had taken a long time to reach the point of sentencing, this was due in part to the second Covid lockdown and other factors out of Kelly’s control. His client had not reoffended since this incident.

Judge Dominic Dravitzki said that in December last year, the defendant was given a sentencing indication of six to eight months’ jail, convertible to an electronically monitored sentence.

He accepted Kelly was concerned about the welfare of some young family members at the address, and had gone there in relation to an extended family dispute, Judge Dravitzki said.

The judge noted the defendant had told Probation he should have just stayed at home.

A pre-sentence report had revealed concerns about Kelly’s lack of recognition of his drug and alcohol issues, but the judge accepted he had now taken steps to address that.

For the assault and the lockdown breach, Kelly was sentenced to four months’ community detention, with a 9pm-7am curfew. He was also sentenced to nine months’ supervision, and ordered to attend any courses or counselling as deemed appropriate by his probation officer. He was not to consume drugs or alcohol.

For driving drunk, because it was Kelly’s second conviction within five years, alcohol interlock rules applied. This meant he was disqualified from driving for 28 days, and then would be required to have an interlock device fitted to his vehicle. The "significant cost" of this was taken into account, and no further sentence was imposed.

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