By Tara Shaskey, Open Justice reporter of
A former top sports star who represented New Zealand internationally has avoided conviction for assaulting a woman and damaging her property over a three-day period.
On Friday, the man appeared in New Plymouth District Court for sentencing on admitted charges of assault on a person in a family relationship and three of wilful damage.
However, through his counsel, Nathan Bourke, he made an application for a discharge without conviction.
Judge Gregory Hikaka granted the application as well as a request for permanent name suppression.
The court heard the man had met with the victim of his offending on the morning of 17 February this year.
He was following her down the stairs near a New Plymouth beach car park when he grabbed the woman from behind in a “bear hug”. She was unable to escape his grip.
While still holding the woman, the man grabbed her phone from her and threw it away.
The following day, he went to a property, where, due to his police bail conditions, he was not allowed to enter.
There, he removed a security camera in an attempt to conceal his entry before proceeding to damage the woman’s property.
He used a black permanent marker to write derogatory comments about the woman on a photo frame that had significant sentimental value to her.
Then the next day, on 19 February, he took the woman’s wallet and cut up her bank cards before throwing the wallet in a rubbish bin.
In explanation for his offending, the man told police he was “angry” at the time of the incidents.
In court, Judge Gregory Hikaka found the offending was of a low level, though it still met the criteria to be charged.
He said the indirect and direct consequences of a conviction were disproportionate to the gravity of the offending.
The victim supported the man’s application to be discharged without conviction as well as his bid for permanent name suppression.
The man felt a “deep sense of shame” in regards to the offending, the judge said.
He had taken a number of steps to address the issues he was suffering but still had a way to go.
After granting the applications, Judge Hikaka ordered the man to pay $1000 in emotional harm reparation to the victim.
* This story originally appeared in the New Zealand Herald.