A Masterton man charged with assault - after the mother of the victim gathered evidence herself - has been discharged without conviction.
The verdict has again left the victim's family feeling let down by the system.
Brodie Charles McDowall, 19, was originally charged with assaulting Roger Whioke with intent to injure him.
Yesterday in the Wellington District Court, police amended the charge to assault and McDowall pleaded guilty.
The police had to apologise in March for not following up on the assault in a Wellington apartment building in October last year.
It was left to Whioke's mother, Andrea Jane, to find surveillance footage of the building's stairwell. She laid a complaint with the Independent Police Conduct Authority.
Only then did police charge McDowall, who was caught on camera throwing a punch.
Whioke, who suffered injuries including a bruised and swollen face and chipped and cracked teeth, was at home when he realised people were spitting on his windows from the floor above. When he went upstairs to ask them to clean it off, there was an altercation and he was assaulted.
Judge Tony Walsh said McDowall and his associates tried to taunt Whioke and his friends into a fight before following them.
McDowall threw the first punch and there was a scuffle.
Whioke was held in a headlock and McDowall tried to kick him, and had to be held back from lunging at Whioke again.
The judge said both groups had been drinking but he told McDowall his actions were foolish.
The judge agreed to a discharge without conviction despite a report that Whioke did not want McDowall to be discharged. The judge said he was satisfied a conviction could affect McDowall's career as a personal trainer.
He also ordered McDowall to pay $800 in reparation to Whioke.
Jane said she was disappointed with the verdict.
"I am quite gutted that he got off with that," she said. "He should have been held accountable for his actions."
Her son had been affected both physically and emotionally, she said.
McDowall's lawyer, Val Nisbet, said the publicity over the incident had been of great stress to his client, who had now apologised to the victim.
- The Dominion Post