Shoplifting turns to assault

BELINDA FEEK
Last updated 05:00 19/01/2013

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A Hamilton judge says he struggled with his decision to jail an 18-year-old who severely injured a liquor store owner with a broken bottle.

Judge Phillip Connell sentenced Jack Tout, of Morrinsville, to 16 months' jail for the assault, which happened during a botched shoplifting attempt last year.

Tout went into the Nottingham Castle Bottle Store in the town on August 6, grabbing two bottles of spirits and walking toward the counter before sidestepping to the exit.

The sole staff member, a 55-year-old, grabbed Tout by his hooded jersey when Tout swung his arm around, smashing the bottle on a door frame.

The swinging motion continued, with the broken bottle hitting him in the face, around his eye. Medical staff said it was a miracle the man did not lose his sight. Despite several operations, he is likely to have some disfigurement for life.

Tout was on the run from police at the time of the assault, featuring on television's Police 10-7, and it was only when a member of the public identified him that he was arrested a couple of months later.

In a deal struck with police, a second charge of aggravated robbery was dropped in exchange for the guilty plea on a charge of wounding with reckless disregard.

Crown prosecutor Sheila Cameron said police accepted there was no intent to injure the victim, but was simply the result of his reckless actions.

Tout, who is diagnosed with ADHD, admitted he had issues with impulsiveness.

Tout's lawyer, Gavin Boot, said he didn't go into the store with the intent of hurting the man or armed with a weapon.

Tout had been drinking on the day of the incident and admitted he had a drinking problem.

In sentencing Tout to jail and imposing a three-strike violent offence warning, Judge Connell said the courts normally avoided sending such young offenders to prison, preferring to opt toward rehabilitation.

"I'm struggling with it... this is a case where there was serious injury, a broken bottle, an attack to the head and I have to accept this was done to get out of the store."

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- Waikato Times

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