Victim's tale of stabbing in Sounds 'impossible'

A Picton man at the centre of an armed offenders squad (AOS) callout in the Marlborough Sounds last year tapped his victim on the chest with a knife, but did not stab him or throw him off a boat, police say.

Jonathon Paul Lonie, 53, was initially charged with wounding and threatening to kill, after a Nelson man told police he was attacked and thrown off Lonie's boat on the night of October 30.

The man walked to Lochmara Lodge the next morning saying he had swum to shore and spent the night in bushes. The report sparked a two-hour manhunt involving the AOS and maritime police from Wellington.

However, the charges were reduced last year and again in the Blenheim District Court yesterday, where Lonie admitted a charge of assault and was fined $500.

Defence lawyer Tony Bamford said the charges were reduced after it became clear the victim's account of what happened was physically impossible.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Graham Single said the victim met Lonie when he came to Picton from Nelson on holiday a few days before the incident.

Lonie had offered to take the man on a cruise round the Marlborough Sounds in his yacht, but on the night of October 30 the pair got into an argument while drinking in the boat cabin, he said.

The argument moved on deck and Lonie asked the man to get off his boat, and into a dinghy he was towing, he said. As the argument continued, Lonie tapped the man on the chest with a knife with a five or six-inch blade, while telling him to get off the boat.

The frightened man jumped in the water, but Lonie turned the boat around and picked him up, Mr Single said. Lonie then went to sleep and when he woke up the man was gone, he said.

The victim suffered no injuries from Mr Lonie's actions, he said.

Mr Bamford said the pair had been arguing over problems with the boat's engine and the victim's unwillingness to stop fishing while Lonie went to land to fix it. Lonie had picked up the knife while moving some fishing gear during the argument, he said.

Lonie had co-operated with police, who were reliant on his evidence because of the impossibility of the other man's story, he said.

Judge Denys Barry said the involvement of a weapon increased the seriousness of any incident, but there was no evidence Lonie intended to use it. He had a limited history of violence, but admitted having problems with alcohol, Judge Barry said.

The Marlborough Express