US man here for wedding sentenced over attack

An American who rained a flurry of punches on a prone Queenstown man, ruining a wedding celebration in the process, can return home after paying $6000 to his victim.

At the sentencing of Kenton Kollbaum in the Queenstown District Court yesterday, Judge Catriona Doyle said the 32-year-old had taken "extraordinary steps" to put things right since the February 16 assault, and little would be achieved by keeping him in New Zealand on a home detention sentence.

Kollbaum and the victim were drinking in the resort town’s CBD after the Gibbston wedding when, after an exchange of words, he knocked the victim to the ground with a punch.

He then fell on the victim and struck him 13 more times before returning to deliver another six blows after breaking free of someone trying to intervene.

The victim suffered extensive bruising, swelling and grazes to his head and upper torso, as well as loosened teeth and suspected concussion.

Kollbaum, who was on a 15-day visit to New Zealand with his wife for the wedding, was charged with injuring with intent to injure.

Counsel Paige Noorland said in the two months since the assault, the defendant had completed 200 hours’ voluntary work for the Salvation Army in Invercargill, and undertaken alcohol and anger management counselling at his own behest.

He was "beyond remorseful and ashamed", and had written letters of apology to the victim and his partner, who had witnessed the attack.

He had also made $6000 available to pay them reparation for emotional harm.

The defendant was a father of two and the main income earner for his family, Ms Noorland said.

His two-month absence from home had put financial strain on his family and put his job in jeopardy.

Making him stay in New Zealand to serve an electronically monitored sentence would have detrimental effects on his family, employer and community.

Judge Doyle said the victim had to take a week off work after the assault, and continued to suffer pain from his injuries.

In his victim impact statement, he said the "disgusting and inexcusable" attack was unprovoked, and the defendant deserved no sympathy.

In her statement, the victim’s partner said seeing him being repeatedly punched as he lay on the ground had left her traumatised, and her normally "happy, funny and talkative" partner was now quiet and depressed.

Judge Doyle told Kollbaum the incident was an "extraordinary fall from good grace" for someone of previous good character.

She calculated he would normally have been subject to a sentence of two and a-half months’ home detention after applying deductions for his early guilty plea, expressions of remorse and the voluntary community work and counselling undertaken.

However, he had done "everything in his power" to make things right since the assault, and she accepted Ms Noorland’s submission little would be achieved by keeping him away from his family and job any longer.

She entered a conviction and ordered him to pay the victim and his partner $6000 reparation.

That was the "appropriate outcome" for the defendant and the case’s unique circumstances, but should not be seen as a precedent for foreign nationals to avoid serious consequences for offending, she said.

Also sentenced by Judge Doyle yesterday were.—

 - Ethan Daniel Kerr, 21, of Albert Town, drink-driving (1083mcg), unlawfully taking a vehicle, Beacon Point Rd, Wanaka, October 1, discharged without conviction, disqualified 28 days with alcohol interlock provisions.

 - Sam Williams, 32, of Frankton, assault in family relationship, threatening behaviour, July 12, Queenstown; unlawfully possessing a firearm, possessing methamphetamine utensils, breaching protection order, July 26, Queenstown, 12 months’ intensive supervision.