Petrol pump rage spilled over at a Hawke's Bay service station as a forecourt attendant and a "doddery old man" came to blows.
Attendant Jonathon Ryan, 23, punched Vietnam veteran Peter Stone, 66, after becoming impatient with how long Stone was taking to count his money.
Stone retaliated by grabbing a machete from his car, waving it about and "pricking" Ryan in the arm and stomach.
Both men were charged with assault and intended to defend the charges at Napier District Court yesterday. But after seeing CCTV footage, they changed their pleas to guilty.
The court was told that Stone pulled into the Mobil station at Bay View on his way home after meeting a friend at Napier RSA on Good Friday.
He asked Ryan to wait while he counted his money before filling up as he wasn't sure if he had $28 or $29.
Ryan became impatient and swore at Stone, telling him to fill the car himself.
As the pair headed into the shop, Stone put an arm on Ryan's back. The latter responded by turning and giving Stone a right hook to the eye, Judge Philip Connell said.
Stone went back to his car and grabbed a machete before waving it about and "pricking" Ryan with it.
Stone needed an operation and had a metal plate put in because of the damage to his eye socket. Ryan needed stitches for cuts.
Stone's lawyer, Philip Jensen, said his client was surprised and angry at being abused for being a "doddery old man" and was provoked to hit back at Ryan.
But Judge Connell said the responsibility lay "squarely in both camps" and, if both men had been more courteous to each other, the incident might not have occurred.
He sentenced Ryan to 80 hours' community work, and fined Stone $1500.
He said people who recklessly waved machetes around often ended up in jail, but he accepted Stone was provoked.
"You lost your rag completely, I don't blame you for that, but the law doesn't allow you to retaliate."
Outside court, Stone described the incident as a "gutless" attack that he did not see coming.
"I started seeing blood, I started seeing red, and I started getting really angry."
His doctor said it was possible he had suffered post-traumatic stress while serving for his home country, Australia, in the Vietnam War. His brother was killed in action.
Stone said he had the machete in the car because he planned to collect firewood over Easter Weekend. Instead, he spent most of the weekend in hospital. He still needs another two operations on his eye.
"He smashed my glasses through my eye, I could have lost my sight, I could have died."
He said he was still waiting for an apology from the service station owners.
"I've been going there 18 years. I go in there to get service, not all the extras that go with it, like a punch in the head."
Ryan no longer works at the Mobil station.
- © Fairfax NZ News