Jailed after assault on policeman

ANNA WILLIAMS
Last updated 07:47 07/04/2014

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A Marlborough man serving six months' home detention for punching a police officer is going to prison after his original sentence was quashed in the Court of Appeal.

John David Wright, 46, of Koromiko, was sentenced to home detention in November after admitting a charge of injuring with intent.

The incident happened in February last year after Wright had been arrested for disorderly behaviour. He punched a police officer at Picton police station after one handcuff had been removed as he was being prepared to be put in a cell.

The Crown appealed the sentence of home detention on the grounds it was "manifestly inadequate" and a hearing was held on March 12.

The Court of Appeal says in its decision released last week that the home detention sentence was "manifestly inadequate itself and, very especially, by reason of its length".

"In our view, for this violent attack on a police officer acting in the course of his duties a sentence of imprisonment was called for."

The Court of Appeal quashed the sentence of six months' home detention and six months' post detention and substituted it with a sentence of one year and two months in prison. On Thursday last week, Wright was told he must surrender himself to the Picton police station at 10am today.

Wright told the Express yesterday that he wanted people to know about the injustice.

He said the Court of Appeal decision did not take into account how he had been treated by the police officer he hit.

Judge Ian Mill said when he sentenced Wright in November that he appeared to be calm and to be complying with instructions before lashing out.

"You spoke and it seemed to me that you were smiling as you did so, he replied and immediately you punched him in the face," the judge said.

Yesterday, Wright said he was still in shock about going to prison.

His first thought when his lawyer told him about the new sentence on Thursday was of his 15-year-old son, he said.

"In four weeks it was all going to be over," he said. "I thought me and my son can have a new start and put it all behind us – try and get our old life back."

He had just four days to sort his life out before he was expected to report to the Picton police station, he said.

"It's pretty hard. You only get one working day."

He was afraid Child, Youth and Family would take his son away.

He did not know how long he would be in prison, but had been told he could apply for parole in six months' time, he said.

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He planned to appeal the Court of Appeal judgement

- The Marlborough Express

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