Neighbour gets chance to atone

Last updated 12:27 04/12/2013

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A man who pulled his neighbour's goatee beard, bit his finger, punched him, threw a beer bottle through his window and swung a baseball bat at him has yet to say sorry to him.

In the Palmerston North District Court yesterday Judge Gerard Lynch again bailed Matthew David Reader, 41, to give him the chance to meet his neighbour in a restorative justice session to take the heat out of the situation.

The original melee began in the coastal Manawatu town of Tangimoana about 9pm on October 10.

Reader was at home when his neighbour and three mates arrived next door and began playing music.

This upset Reader and he leaned over the fence and threw a beer bottle at his neighbour's house.

The bottle broke a window and prompted the neighbour to march over to get an explanation.

He knocked on the door and was met by Reader, who swung a baseball bat at his head. The neighbour blocked the swing, grabbed the bat and threw it to the ground.

Reader then rugby-tackled him to the ground and the pair ended up on the lawn, where Reader tried to punch his neighbour.

"He threw about a dozen haymakers," the neighbour told police, according to a court summary.

He blocked most of the punches, as the two wrestled on the lawn.

"After a short time [Reader] held the victim's goatee beard in one hand and refused to release it.

"One of the victim's friends came to his aid and attempted two or three times to pull [Reader] away from the victim, who was underneath him," the summary says.

"During the struggle [Reader] found himself with the victim's finger in his mouth. He bit down hard on the finger."

Eventually the neighbour, who suffered bumps and bruises to his arms and legs, managed to get away and call police. "He did complain that half of the hair from his goatee beard was pulled from his chin."

Reader has admitted one charge each of common assault and wilful damage.

He will reappear in court on December 19 if the restorative justice session has not taken place or is unsuccessful.

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- Manawatu Standard

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