Promising skier escapes conviction

A professional free-skier who hopes to represent New Zealand at the World X Games was discharged without conviction on charges of breaching the liquor ban and assaulting a bouncer, both in Wanaka on July 13.

Thomas James Frederick McGaw (19), also a skiing instructor at Snow Park, initially denied assaulting Leon Greenway and appeared for a status hearing before Judge Michael Turner yesterday.

However, after hearing the facts, Judge Turner believed a conviction would be "out of all proportion to the gravity of the offence".

With regard to the assault, Judge Turner said McGaw - who told the judge he had been celebrating winning his first competition of the season - started drinking about 2pm on July 12.

He and friends had consumed beer and later bought and consumed some whisky.

Shortly after midnight McGaw and his associates were in a Wanaka bar when one of his associates "became aggressive".

"Due to his gross intoxication you tried to restrain him from behaving inappropriately towards others," Judge Turner said.

A security officer removed McGaw from the bar, before being told by other patrons he was not the troublemaker.

McGaw was allowed back into the bar and his associate was removed.

"You considered that the doorman had been excessive in the use of his force towards your friend.

"You became involved, grabbing hold of the doorman."

The victim considered McGaw had placed him in a "headlock", although McGaw maintained he had "grabbed him around the upper torso".

McGaw earlier told Judge Turner he had "no intention of causing harm" and wanted to get his associate home.

He had been attending alcohol counselling in Auckland and had since stopped drinking.

Judge Turner considered McGaw's offending to be at the low end of the scale.

Given his ambitions to travel the world and represent New Zealand in free-skiing, convictions "may cause difficulty with travel in due course", Judge Turner said.

McGaw was ordered to pay $132.89 court costs and $200 emotional harm reparation to Mr Greenway by 4pm today.


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