A teenager has gone to jail for three years for a bashing and two street robberies which included a cheeseburger as part of the loot.
Liam John McNeil seemed angry about the jail term he received at his Christchurch District Court sentencing, after his pre-sentence report had recommended home detention.
Judge Raoul Neave said the recommendation was “utterly unrealistic”.
Defence counsel Paul Johnson argued that McNeil did not need to be jailed after spending three months in custody on remand, when he had done studies to get a worksite safety certificate, first aid course, forklift licence, and a short drug and alcohol rehabilitation course.
“I think this young man is salvageable,” said Mr Johnson.
McNeil, an 18-year-old labourer from Linwood, had pleaded guilty to charges of intentionally injuring one victim, stealing a bottle of wine, using a wine bottle as a weapon to rob four people of two cellphones, a bottle of wine, cigarette lighter, and a cheeseburger. He also admitted failing to do an earlier sentence of community work.
Judge Neave said McNeil still did not “get it” when he told the probation officer at his pre-sentence interview that the assault had involved him “standing up for a friend”.
Instead, he should have been going to the aid of the person who was being punched by his friend after they had argued. McNeil joined in and punched and kicked the victim as he lay on the ground.
The victim received a fractured eye socket, broken nose, chipped teeth, two black eyes, and sore arms.
After being arrested on that charge, McNeil was released on bail and carried out the two street robberies on innocent people going about their business within 24 hours.
McNeil was with a group of associates for both robberies which occurred only 50min apart.
People were entitled to go about the city without being threatened by “drunken thugs”, he said.
In one robbery, the victim had been punched when he tried to get his cellphone back, and in the other the victims had been threatened with a bottle before items were taken.
“All this trouble over absolutely trivial stuff,” said the judge.
He told McNeil he had to make choices about the company he kept, and deal with issues of alcohol and probably other drugs as well.
“You committed these robberies less than 24 hours after being bailed by the court. That was a fine way of paying back the judge who gave you the opportunity to stay in the community,” he said, imposing the three-year jail term.