Street bashing left victim with brain bleed

May 30, 2017 | By More

A 23-year-old was fortunate the outcome wasn’t more serious for his street assault that left one of his victims with bleeding on the brain, said a judge who granted him home detention.

Judge Tom Gilbert told Luan Minh Pham: “Every year in New Zealand there are a number of instances like this where people fall over having been punched, or hit their head, or are punched on the ground, and they die.

“You are fortunate that the victim was not injured on more long-term basis.”

Pham, who now works for a fishery distribution firm in Marlborough, will have to pay a total of $3000 to his two victims as emotional harm reparations.

He will also serve five months of home detention at the home of his mother and stepfather near Blenheim. There will be special conditions imposed during the home detention including not possessing or consuming alcohol. The alcohol condition will not apply during six months of post-release special conditions.

Defence counsel Judith Walshe said at Pham’s Christchurch District Court sentencing that Pham accepted he had over-reacted to “random racial abuse” on the street late at night in central Christchurch, on August 7 last year.

She said: “He is going to have to have a strategy for dealing with that sort of ignorance. It is not the first time it has happened.”

The street fight happened after Pham and 22-year-old Benjamin Paul Conner had left a city bar together. Pham had been drinking but was not drunk.

There was an exchange of words with two other men and then a fight in which two brothers who were Lincoln University students were injured. Conner admitted wounding one of them and was sentenced in December to four months’ home detention and emotional harm reparations.

Pham later admitted assaults on both of them, but less serious charges. He admitted an assault charge for one victim, and intentionally injuring the other.

Judge Gilbert noted the accusation that the incident was triggered by racial abuse. He said: “If that did occur, while it does (the victims) no credit, it is not an excuse for using your fists in the way that you did.”

Both the other men were beaten. Conner hit one of them when he had his hands up indicating he did not want to fight. He fell and may have hit his head, and Pham punched him while he was on the ground.

Judge Gilbert said it was not possible to say whether the damage – fractured skull, broken eye socket, lost teeth, and bleeding on the brain – had been caused by the punches by both men, or the fall.

He noted Pham had good support from his family and his employer, and said he did not expect to see him at court again. He had a positive pre-sentence report.

Mrs Walshe asked for name suppression for Pham for the first time, though his name has been reported several times throughout the court process.

Judge Gilbert said it was being sought because Pham would be living in a small town, the press would be interested in the case, and it might be “uncomfortable” for his family if his name were published.

He said the grounds did not even come close to an order being granted. The law required extreme hardship for the defendant, or undue hardship for his family and the effects of this case were no different to dozens of others that came up every day.

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