Queenstown 'not Gotham City,' judge tells assailant

A District Court judge reminded a Cromwell caterer Queenstown was not "Gotham City" and it did not need people "taking the law into their own hands and becoming caped crusaders".

Judge Catriona Doyle made the comments today to Manawa Rakete-Shea (20), who had earlier admitted injuring Oliver McKenzie with reckless disregard and stealing his backpack and contents, valued at $450, in Queenstown on March 26.

Rakete-Shea had been communicating with McKenzie through text messages and social media applications about 10pm, purporting to be a female named Mikayla.

A meeting was arranged between the pair at the base of the Coronet Peak ski field’s access road — a police summary of facts said Mr McKenzie believed he was meeting the woman to supply her with class B-controlled MDMA.

Rakete-Shea then approached Mr McKenzie and after a short discussion punched him once to the head, uplifted the backpack and left.

Defence lawyer Louise Denton sought for a sentence of community and detention, in part to help keep him "on the stable path he’s already started".

Judge Doyle had two victim impact statements, which she said made for "chilly reading".

"The one punch has had significant consequences for Mr McKenzie — his whole life has been impacted as a result of this assault, and not at all for the better," she said.

Mr McKenzie’s jaw was fractured in two places, he had teeth displaced and dislodged, severe facial swelling and a severe concussion.

He underwent surgery to realign and reset his jaw, with permanent rods inserted, and several of his teeth would be out of line for the rest of his life.

He had been on ACC until July, but had to resign from his job at Invercargill’s Niagra Timber plant because he still suffered a loss of spatial awareness, meaning he could no longer work around heavy machinery.

He had since started studying full-time, but for several months he was unable to complete basic tasks, including cooking, cleaning, speaking and walking.

He had also been unable to drive, had issues sleeping and his mental health had also been impacted, the judge said.

"That victim impact statement is very jarring in terms of the effects one punch can have ...  it’s not just your life that’s been affected as a result of you deciding to go and play vigilante."

Rakete-Shea had offered to participate in restorative justice but the victim was not prepared to meet him.

He had no previous convictions but had entered the criminal justice system in "spectacular fashion", Judge Doyle said.

However, it was clear he had "real remorse" for his actions, was a good candidate for a rehabilitative sentence, and was not considered to be a high risk to either the victim or the wider community.

"Your background is really complicated, but you are someone who’s very much on a knife edge of being able to turn this around and make this your very last appearance in court.

"I really hope that we don’t see you back here.

"You have a real opportunity to put this right and put it behind you and [become] a good, upstanding member of society."

For the assault, he was ordered to pay the victim $2000 emotional harm reparation, at $15 a week and sentenced to five months’ community detention with a nightly curfew from 7.30pm to 6.30am, and 12 months’ supervision, with conditions.

On the theft charge, he was convicted and discharged.

 

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