Guilty of burning boy's hand

Last updated 07:43 25/02/2013

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Blenheim beneficiary Nathan Menzies has been found guilty by jury of deliberately using a lighter to burn a 7-year-old boy.

Judge Jan Kelly convicted Menzies, 36, in the Blenheim District Court on Friday, and remanded him for sentencing with bail conditions continued.

Crown lawyer Sophie O'Donaghue said evidence showed Menzies deliberately burned a horseshoe-shaped brand into the boy's hand with a lighter during a game which went too far, on June 30 last year. The boy was a credible and reliable witness whose evidence was consistent.

Defence lawyer Philip Watson said there was a "ring of truth" to Menzies' evidence and advised the jury to acquit if they had any doubts about his guilt.

The boy gave evidence by video link on Thursday, saying the man held a lighter against his hand, even though he cried. The man said he was burning him (the boy) so he could "get into the army and fight in the war".

Judge Kelly said if the severity of the burn and other evidence convinced the jury that Menzies deliberately used the lighter to assault the boy, they should find him guilty.

She stressed that Wairau Hospital paediatrician David Bond, who examined the boy on July 1 was an expert, qualified to give his opinion.

Mr Bond had said the second-degree burn on the boy's hand was consistent with a heated lighter being applied to the skin rather than a glancing burn. The area was not just red but raised and blistered.

Before making its decision, the jury of six men and six women requested a second viewing of a video showing Menzies telling a police interviewer that he accidentally burned the boy while teaching him to be careful with lighters.

In the video, Menzies said he lit the lighter and held it towards the boy to show him it was dangerous and the flame touched his hand.

Menzies went to Wairau Hospital about 9pm after he tripped and cut his head, taking the boy. A policeman drove the pair home because Menzies appeared drunk and aggressive. Hospital staff discovered the boy's burnt hand, when Menzies returned to hospital a few hours later.

Judge Kelly set March 18 as a tentative date for sentencing.

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- The Marlborough Express

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