A Northland judge has accepted the unusual circumstances of a case and sentenced a Dargaville man to 250 hours' community work and nine months supervision for assault with a blunt instrument.
In passing sentence on Bryce Kereopa, 51, in the Dargaville District Court, Judge Duncan Harvey said: " I would rarely sentence someone to community work for an assault with a weapon, but I believe ... in this case, it is appropriate."
The court heard that in July Kereopa and the complainant were camping with a number of others at a beach near the Waipoua forest.
Defence solicitor Darrell Hart said the complainant was heavily intoxicated and argumentative and had entered the tent of a former partner and tried to sleep beside her. Alerted by her scream the group had removed the complainant without incident and he returned to the fire and continued to drink.
However, his continued "gutter, gang talk" offended Kereopa who admitted he became so fed up he hit the complainant on the head twice with a stick before pushing him, and causing him to fall off the bench on to a pile of rough cut pine.
Realising the man was injured, Kereopa helped him to a car in an attempt to take him to the doctors. He said the complainant was agitated, refused to go and jumped out of the vehicle and continued to drink. Eventually, he wandered off into the forest to a nearby house where an ambulance was called and he was taken to hospital.
Mr Hart argued the man fell on to a protruding stick and gashed the top of his head. He said the location of the injury indicated it could not have been from the blows by the defendant.
Judge Harvey noted there was some doubt about when the injuries had been incurred, but also noted the police had not laid other charges such as assault with intent to injure.
He accepted Kereopa's remorsefulness and his willingness to accept responsibility for his actions by his early plea.
"While this is still a serious incident I am going to accept the recommendation of community work and supervision," he said.