Broadcaster Tony Veitch has avoided a jail sentence after admitting an attack which broke his ex-grilfriend's back.
Veitch appeared in court today on six counts of assaulting his former partner, Kristin Dunne-Powell, and one of injuring her with reckless disregard between 2002 and 2006.
He pleaded guilty to injuring with reckless disregard - which carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment - and was sentenced by Judge Jan Doogue to nine months supervision, 300 hours community service and a $10,000 fine. If his parole officer deems it necessary, Veitch must also attend a Stop Violence programme.
All other charges against Veitch were dropped this morning.
In sentencing Veitch, Judge Doogue talked of an attack on January 29, 2006: "In the course of that argument, you kicked the complainant while she was on the floor of your bedroom," Judge Doogue said.
Dunne-Powell - reading an emotional victim impact statement - revealed how the injuries she sustained on that night included one or two fractured vertebrae. The injuries caused severe physical and mental impact on her life.
The Crown's summary of facts described how Veitch and Dunne-Powell agreed to meet at Veitch's home to discuss their relationship. They went to the bedroom where the heated argument broke out and Veitch hit Dunne-Powell. Veitch later took her to Auckland Hospital before leaving at 6am for work duties.
Soon after the attack, Veitch wrote Dunne-Powell a letter of apology. He also paid Dunne-Powell $12,000 for physiotherapy costs, and $150,000 for medical expenses, loss of income and emotional distress.
The court heard today how Veitch had 20 references speaking of his good character, some from prominent New Zealanders.
Dunne-Powell had arrived at court about 8.20am today hand-in-hand with her husband. Veitch - wearing a suit - arrived at court at 9am on his own and ran up the court steps. His wife, Zoe Halford, had arrived at the courthouse about 15 minutes earlier, supported by family.
A growing media pack of about 20 journalists - including the hosts of high-profile current affairs shows Sunday and Close Up - had been awaiting the broadcaster's arrival.
VEITCH TO FIGHT MEDIA
Veitch said after the sentencing that he had been shocked at the way events had been portrayed in some areas of the media.
"From today we will begin legal action against them. It is one thing to condemn someone and another to slander them."
Veitch said today had been hideous and he was absolutely relieved to have it over with.
"Despite what may have been said, I never shied away from anything that happened that night over three years ago.
"That wasn't me, and will never be me again."
He said he had told his family, his wife and close friends of the attack soon after it happened. Veitch also said he had told his employer, TVNZ, the "full and utter truth".
What still confounded Veitch was that he believed he and Dunne-Powell had parted on good terms, remaining in contact for 13 months after the incident.
"I am grateful sense had prevailed and the other charges have been dropped."
Detective Inspector Scott Beard said outside court that police had investigated the case thoroughly and professionally.
"The bottom line is this is not an unusual case. What's different is Mr Veitch is high profile. At the end of the day, domestic violence is not okay".
>> Read how the case developed
It was revealed late yesterday that a two-week depositions hearing, scheduled to start on Monday to determine if Veitch would stand trial, had been called off.
Auckland District Court staff had said they had been directed by the judge handling the case not to discuss whether a deal had been reached, saying only that the matter would be "brought on".
Sources close to the case had said the matter would be "significantly advanced". Another source close to Veitch's defence team had confirmed that the matter would be resolved today.
Asked last night whether Veitch had reached a deal with police, inquiry head Detective Inspector Scott Beard said: "I will be going down to court like everyone else to see what is happening."
Dunne-Powell's sister, Leanne Dunne, said she could not comment. "We're all on a media ban. I'm afraid you'll have to wait."
The Dominion Post revealed in July last year that Veitch had secretly agreed to pay Dunne-Powell more than $100,000 after assaulting her at his Auckland home.
He admitted two days later that his "frustration took over".
"I broke and lashed out in anger, something I will regret till the end of my days," he told reporters.
Veitch later quit his TVNZ and Radio Sport jobs and was charged in August, saying he was "more determined than ever" to clear his name and "there are two sides to every story and I guarantee that will come out in the end".