Arrowtown attack left victim needing surgery

A Kingston mechanic "poleaxed" a man with a rugby-style tackle in Arrowtown before continuing the attack with kicks and punches as his victim lay on the ground.

Reuben Blair, 29, was charged with injuring with intent to injure after the June 13, 2020, incident.

At a judge-alone trial in the Queenstown District Court last July, the victim and a friend gave evidence about "weird vibes" and a verbal exchange with a group of men as they left the Blue Door Bar.

The victim said they were urinating in bushes in Buckingham Green when he was punched in the head from behind by one of the defendant’s associates.

He ran after his assailant along Buckingham St, and just as he caught up, Blair tackled him from behind before kicking and punching him.

He suffered concussion, a head wound, whiplash and a shoulder injury for which he required surgery eight months later.

Blair told the court he was sitting in a car ready to leave the township after drinking "four or five G&Ts" at the bar when he heard the victim threatening to "smash" one of his friends before chasing him down the street.

He got out of the car, and as he ran after them, claimed to hear the victim threatening to stab his friend.

He tackled the victim at "full speed", putting him to the ground, then kicked and punched him in the belief he had a knife.

"It all happened in about two seconds — I went in there, created space, got out of there."

At the conclusion of the trial, Judge Russell Walker told Blair even if the tackle was reasonable force, his subsequent actions were not, and found the charge proven.

However, he left the door open for a discharge without conviction if the defendant attended alcohol counselling and paid the victim reparation.

At Monday’s hearing to consider the discharge application, Judge Walker said Blair had admitted to his pre-sentence report writer he was intoxicated and "went over the top" during the incident.

A conviction could jeopardise his position as a certified vehicle inspector; he was the sole provider of warrants of fitness in the township, and the work made up a significant portion of his income.

Judge Walker said the defendant had attended six alcohol abuse counselling sessions, and paid the victim $2000 reparation for emotional harm.

He told Blair he hoped the court process had been a "considerable learning experience", and did not expect to see him back in court.

"It’s really important you learn from this mistake."