Jail after threats made with spears

"A man of advancing years who still consistently and persistently comes back into the criminal justice system," was Judge Michael Crosbie’s description of a 67-year-old Balclutha man.

Stephen John Hurring had a significant history of some seven pages, the judge said in the Dunedin District Court on Wednesday.

Hurring had been convicted of threatening to kill, threatening grievous bodily harm, and unlawfully having an offensive weapon (an axe) with him in public, at Balclutha, on August 15 last year; and threatening behaviour, at Balclutha, on November 11, 2018.

He had admitted the 2019 offending.

The 2018 offence was found proved against him after a defended hearing.

Reviewing the August incident, the judge said Hurring was at a neighbour’s drinking with others. He was highly intoxicated and had been aggravating one man for most of the evening.

About 7.45pm, Hurring left, got two spears from his property, and returned.

He put the spears against a cabinet in the lounge.

Soon after, things between Hurring and the man became heated.

Hurring began jabbing one of the spears towards him and making threats.

People tried to calm him, telling him to put the spear down.

Hurring then pointed it towards another person, again making threats.

When Hurring eventually calmed and put the spear down, the original victim grabbed the spears and hid them.

After the occupants managed to lock him out of the house, Hurring returned to his property and got an axe.

Back at the neighbour's place, he waved the axe around threateningly.

He also used it, unsuccessfully, to try to jemmy open a locked wooden door.

Police arrived soon after.

Crown counsel Richard Smith said Hurring’s history, since about 2009, was "almost exclusively this type of behaviour ... disorderly and threatening".

Counsel John Westgate said Hurring, when faced with conflict, was unable to modulate his behaviour. Hindered by intoxication, he acted impulsively and made poor decisions.

With reference to psychological and cognitive reports, the judge said it was considered Hurring was most likely experiencing cognitive decline caused by a number of factors, including alcohol.

The judge imposed an overall sentence of two years and five months’ jail.


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