Two who started machine in middle of night guilty of assaulting resident

Two men have been found guilty of seriously assaulting a Queenstown man after they started up a construction machine outside his home in the middle of the night.

A jury unanimously found Liam Osborne, 31, and Luke Holden, 27, guilty of charges of injuring with intent to injure yesterday after a three-day trial in the Invercargill District Court.

After hearing closing arguments in the morning, the jurors took less than two hours to reach their verdict.

They had to contend with contrasting accounts of what happened outside the Brunswick St property, on the edge of the resort town’s CBD, about 12.30am on December 22, 2022.

In his testimony on Thursday, the victim said he was woken up by the sound of a concrete compressor outside, and looked out the window to see Holden at the end of his driveway, trying to push the machine down the street.

When he went outside and managed to reduce the machine to an idle, Holden reappeared and pushed its throttle lever back up again.

The defendant advanced on him after he "regrettably" tripped him up as he ran away.

Then Osborne reappeared and the two men wrestled him to the ground.

As Holden pinned one of his arms behind his back, Osborne launched a flurry of punches and kicks to his head.

In her closing submissions, Crown prosecutor Sarah McKenzie said the men had been drinking for 12 hours before they launched a serious assault on a man who had "just got up to see what the racket was".

"The defendants were amped up, fuelled by alcohol ... they were out to cause trouble."

Holden’s counsel, Bryony Shackell, said the Crown’s theory "didn’t pass the sniff test".

Turning on a construction machine during the night might have been a "fairly juvenile stunt", but Holden was not charged with being juvenile.

He had not swung a single punch, and the complainant’s evidence about how many times Osborne punched him was a "wild exaggeration".

Osborne’s counsel, Paige Noorland, said the defendants’ accounts of the incident "logically fitted together".

The complainant had initiated the violence by foot-tripping Holden, and her client had acted in self-defence of his workmate.

Had the complainant been "punched and stomped a dozen times in a flurry by a big man" like her client, one would have expected him to suffer broken bones.

Instead, ambulance staff treated him at the scene.

"No hospital, no X-rays, just a Panadol."

Judge Russell Walker remanded the men on bail until their sentencing on August 28 in Invercargill.