Harmful punch over dairy queue gets man community detention

A man was left with a fractured skull and a brain injury after a verbal dispute at a Queenstown convenience store turned violent.

British man Daniel Joseph O’Rourke (30) has avoided jail for throwing a sucker punch that caused the victim to fall and hit his head on the footpath outside the Camp St Night ‘n Day store on January 29.

O’Rourke, an electrician who lives in the resort suburb Shotover Country, admitted a charge of injuring with reckless disregard when he appeared in the Queenstown District Court yesterday.

The court heard he was intoxicated when he began arguing with the victim about who should be served first at the store’s counter.

The dispute continued outside, where the defendant suddenly threw a punch that left the victim lying unconscious and bleeding heavily from one ear.

He then ran away without checking on the welfare of the victim, who was treated in Dunedin Hospital for a skull fracture, traumatic brain injury and concussion.

O’Rourke’s lawyer, Louise Denton, said the defendant ran because he panicked, but handed himself in the next day.

He was unaware the police had already identified him through CCTV footage and electronic transaction records.

He was a ‘‘hard-working, family-orientated young man’’, who through subsequent counselling had realised he was not coping with a family-related issue in his home country.

Judge Strettell said the injury was having a significant, long-lasting impact on the victim.

‘‘You punched him without any regard for what the results might be.’’

From a starting point of 14 months’ prison, he converted the sentence to six months’ community detention, with a curfew, and nine months’ supervision to enable intervention for drug and alcohol issues, and ordered O’Rourke to pay the victim $5000 reparation for emotional harm.


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