Community-based sentence for strangulation case

One of Christchurch’s first prosecutions under the tougher new strangulation law has drawn a sentence of community detention and supervision.

Strangulation – a stand-alone offence since early December rather than an aggravating feature on an assault prosecution – carries a maximum penalty of seven years’ jail.

Benjamin James Guthrie Breading, a 29-year-old engineer from Darfield, was probably the second prosecution in Christchurch under the new law. The first man to be charged is taking his case to trial and has a case review hearing in three weeks.

Breading admitted charges of assaulting his partner in December and “intentionally impeding her normal breathing by applying pressure to her neck”.

Defence counsel Andrew Bailey said that since the incident, Breading had done a Stopping Violence course and had psychological counselling.

His prosecution had been publicised because of the relatively new legislation he was caught by. The relationship had ended and the victim did not seek a protection order against him. Her view was that she wanted Breading to get professional help, and this had been done.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Iain Patton said Breading had used significant force against the woman. She had not lost consciousness but she had been traumatised.

Judge Bridget Mackintosh said at Breading’s Christchurch District Court sentencing that the woman had “seen stars” during the incident, which involved two episodes of strangulation. Breading made it difficult for her to breathe but she had kicked out against him. She had been left with redness to her neck and a cut inside her lip.

The judge noted Breading’s efforts at counselling and rehabilitation.

At the time of the offending, Breading had been working long hours and the tiredness might have affected his ability to control his emotions, she said.

She imposed four months of community detention at a Darfield address, with a nightly curfew, and six months of supervision during which Breading will have to undergo treatment, counselling, and programmes as directed.