Jail term quashed for assaulting two Blenheim women, home detention imposed
A Marlborough man who punched two women in a misunderstanding about a dog, has had his jail term overturned on appeal.
Andrew Clive Rochford Averill, 56, was said to have knocked one of the women unconscious, a judge at the High Court in Wellington said.
Averill had pleaded guilty to assaulting a female and assault, and had been sentenced in the Wellington District Court to four months' jail.
However, he appealed against the sentence.
In her appeal decision issued on Friday, Justice Rebecca Ellis said it was a very difficult case. Averill had made an unprovoked violent and "very traumatic" attack on two women, causing one of the victims "nasty injuries".
"Equally, there can be no doubt that Mr Averill is genuinely remorseful and hugely committed to ensuring that something like this never happens again."
After the original sentence was imposed Averill spent three or four nights in prison before he was released on bail pending the appeal. The judge said Averill had never been sentenced to jail before and was effectively a first offender.
The High Court judge said home detention was a real alternative to jail but it was not clear whether the District Court judge considered it as an option.
There were unusually powerful factors pointing against a custodial sentence, the High Court judge said.
The incident had happened on May 27 in Blenheim when two women were walking their dogs on leads. Averill's collarless and unregistered dog began following them.
Averill, a vineyard worker, was out looking for his dog and wrongly thought the women were encouraging his dog to stay with them. He ignored what they were saying, and abused them.
He punched one in the side of her face, and the other in the back of the head when she tried to intervene. He then hit the first woman again so that she fell to the ground, apparently unconscious.
The judge said Averill had counselling for the personal issues that seemed to have led to the attack.
Averill was to serve the home detention sentence at a Wellington address.