Pub bashing sets back sporting hopes

An incident of alcohol-fuelled violence at a pub on Christchurch’s outskirts has cost a young Christchurch man the chance to play semi-professional rugby overseas.

Oliver William Sproat, 19, had to give up the chance to take up the contract in Australia because he remained on bail conditions in Christchurch, where he and his brother George Denton Sproat, 22, had both been charged.

The brothers have now been convicted and sentenced, with Christchurch District Court Judge David Saunders giving them supervision and community work terms.

George Sproat will have to pay for the damage he did to the door at the Yaldhurst Tavern – which triggered the violence – while Oliver Sproat will have to pay $1000 emotional harm reparations to the security guard he bashed.

The pair took the case to trial where Oliver Sproat was found guilty of a charge of assault with intent to injure, and George Sproat was convicted of damaging the door and assault.

Judge Saunders said he accepted after seeing defence submissions and references for both men that the incident was out of character.

Defence counsel Craig Ruane said: “The explanation is obviously over-indulgence in alcohol. Both young men have learned a less from this. Oliver will be significantly affected, and has already lost one opportunity to play overseas.”

Judge Saunders said Oliver Sproat had brought the penalty on himself, with the consequences for his rugby career and his ability to travel overseas. “That’s something he’s going to have to live with.”

Police prosecutor Sergeant Neil Williams questioned whether community work was a sufficient deterrent sentence for such a serious assault.

The judge said he expected that both men would do things far more cautiously if they were able to turn the clock back to March 29, 2017, when the incident happened.

The pair were going out through a door at the tavern which was not to be used, and George Sproat damaged it, causing $756 damage. Two security staff then followed them down the road.

The judge said that if they had apologised and returned as to the hotel to talk about the matter as requested, it might have been dealt with by diversion – without injuries and without convictions.

But both men got into a fight with the security staff. Oliver Sproat broke one guard’s jaw, which had to be wired and causing the loss of two teeth. The judge described it as “a significant injury”.

He put both men on supervision for nine months with a condition that they undertake alcohol counselling or treatment as directed. George Sproat must do 80 hours of community work and pay for the door, and Oliver Sproat must do 120 hours and pay $1000 to the victim of his assault.



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