Beach attack leads to jail

JONO GALUSZKA
Last updated 12:00 24/05/2012

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A 23-year-old Levin man has been sentenced to more than three years in jail for his part in an unprovoked attack on two people at Hokio Beach.

Matthew Winara Webber appeared in Palmerston North District Court for sentencing yesterday after being found guilty of assault with intent to rob and aggravated robbery, stemming from an incident in 2010.

On September 28 that year, Webber and three other people were in Hokio Beach, about 10 kilometres west of Levin.

At 1.15am the next day, Webber was driving a car with his three friends in it down Hokio Beach Rd when they saw two young men walking along the footpath.

One of the men had a laptop computer, which he was using at the time.

Webber passed the two men before turning the vehicle around and parking.

He got out of the car and asked why they were looking at him and his friends, before punching one of them in the head.

He then attacked the other, kicking and kneeing the victim in the head as he lay on the ground.

The second victim was later taken to Palmerston North Hospital, where he received treatment for swelling around his eyes, cuts to his mouth and various bruises.

Crown prosecutor Andrea Read said the attack was unprovoked, serious and cowardly as Webber and his friends outnumbered the others four-to-two.

Defence lawyer Eric Forster said Webber was associated with the Nomads gang at the time and had a long history of alcohol abuse.

However, since being remanded in custody while waiting for sentencing, Webber had done his best to distance himself from the gang, Mr Forster said.

A letter from a Department of Corrections staff member, read to the court by Judge Les Atkins, said Webber had taken various courses in the prison – including te reo and horticulture – with vigour, along with his duty as a cleaner.

He was also informing staff if he was being placed in cells with or near members of the Nomads gang.

A letter Webber wrote said he was wanting to start a new life and was aiming to get into the building trade once he got out of prison.

Judge Atkins agreed with Ms Read that the attack was cowardly and relayed the victims' confusion on the whole scenario.

"They are two young men who had done nothing to provoke it at all. To this day those two persons don't understand why they were targeted."

Webber was sentenced to three years and six months in prison.

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- Manawatu Standard

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