A 25-year-old has acknowledged that his street assault on ex-All Black Justin Marshall in Queenstown was “disgraceful, idiotic” behaviour.
Five months of home detention were imposed on Tai Samuel Neilson at his Christchurch District Court sentencing today by Judge Tony Couch.
Marshall was injured in the April 18 attack which involved punching, kicking, and stomping. Neilson jumped in the air to stomp on the victim as he lay curled up to protect himself. The other alleged attacker, Adam Kearns, 23, is pleading not guilty and the case is heading for trial.
Neilson pleaded guilty to the charge of assault with intent to injure in the Christchurch court on June 9, and was remanded on bail for sentence.
Defence counsel Josh Lucas today said Neilson was motivated by a misguided sense of loyalty to a friend when he became involved in the incident. “He misinterpreted the situation,” he said.
The pre-sentence report described the issues involved as “alcohol, peer influence, and a propensity for violence”. Mr Lucas said Neilson acknowledged that the offending was disgraceful and idiotic.
He said Neilson now had work for a minerals firm, and had largely stopped drinking since 2008, except for rare occasions.
The attack took place after Neilson and a friend had been drinking at Queenstown’s Club 88 strip club. Marshall was assaulted as he came out of a convenience store nearby, with a steak pie.
Judge Tony Couch said: “We can’t have a society in which this sort of violence simply occurs without warning in the streets.”
He said Marshall had been left with bruising to his back, head and body, lacerations, and a contusion below his left eye.
Neilson had extensive convictions for driving offences but none for violence. The pre-sentence report described the offence as out of character.
“It appears you were heavily intoxicated at the time. As you know well, that’s no excuse,” said the judge.
He decided that home detention could be allowed for five months at a Christchurch address, and made a special condition for Neilson to secure dogs at the property so that Community Corrections staff could arrive safely at any time to check on him.
Post-release conditions were imposed for an additional six months.