Douglas James Archer’s apology to his 82-year-old mother for the vicious beating he gave her with an axe handle didn’t get him any reduction on his 14-year jail term.
The 62-year-old got permission to make his own apology in court, as he stood in the dock awaiting sentence for beating his mother and stepfather, stealing a DVD player, and taking his mother’s car.
When he said he was “deeply sorry” and the attack had not been premeditated, his mother, June Geary, told him to “Speak up”.
He said none of it would have happened without the disagreement with his stepfather, Arthur Eaton, then aged 72, who has since died.
A daughter of Mr Eaton’s asked if there was any apology from Archer for her father “who’s died because of your assault”, but Christchurch District Court Judge Alistair Garland ended Archer’s statement at that stage.
The judge said later: “It is clear that your remorse is limited.” He said Archer had only pleaded guilty during his trial when it was clear that guilty verdicts were assured.
Archer’s apology to his mother only came at the last minute and that affected the amount of weight it could be given, the judge said.
He allowed him no sentence reduction for his guilty pleas or remorse, and imposed a non-parole term that ensures Archer will serve at least half the sentence. He also read him a first strike warning under the system that imposes heavier penalties on repeat violent offenders.
Prosecutor Barnaby Hawes acknowledged the Crown could not prove that Archer took a weapon with him on March 1, 2013, when he attacked his mother from behind with an axe handle, and his stepfather with the handle, scissors, and a box cutter.
The attack on his mother only stopped when she feigned unconsciousness, and Archer then went to the bedroom where his stepfather had been napping and beat, stabbed, and cut him as he tried to rise from bed.
Both victims were hospitalised for about a week and needed operations for broken bones, including a broken jaw for Mr Eaton, and a fractured forearm and shoulder blade for Mrs Geary. They also received cuts and bruises.
“It is clear to see that the emotional harm to both victims was substantial,” said the judge.
Defence counsel Tony Garrett said it was difficult to try to work out why the offending occurred, particularly against Mrs Geary. It was clear there had been simmering, on-going resentment.
The court was told that Archer had been living in a sleep-out on the property until February 12, 2013, when his mother told him to leave and served him with a trespass notice. He returned and attacked the couple about two weeks later.
They were attacked with weapons that were capable of causing lethal injuries, and both attacks had been to the victims’ heads. They were elderly, and were defenceless and easily overpowered. The judge ruled out any provocation by Mr Eaton.
He noted that Archer had a significant history of dishonesty, and two violence convictions, but it all pre-dated 1994.
Jailing Archer for the two charges of intentionally causing grievous bodily harm, Judge Garland told him: “This was unprovoked and gratuitous violence against elderly victims.”