Drug debt fight puts children 'in peril'

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 05:00 05/12/2013

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A two-year grudge over a drug debt was the motive for an attack on a man asleep in his bed, the New Plymouth District Court heard yesterday.

Former methamphetamine addict James Anderson Thomson, 43, and two mates caught a taxi at 4.30am on September 1 and went to the victim's Bell Block home.

There, Thomson kicked in the locked door and dealt to his victim.

"This has been a long time coming," Thomson told him.

Thomson was yesterday sentenced to jail after admitting assaulting David Martin Toa, 51, with intent to injure him while he was asleep in his bed next to his 4-year-old granddaughter.

There was also a 9-month-old baby sleeping in the room.

Judge Gerard Lynch said Thomson's offending, which he described as a home invasion, was clearly in the serious category.

"You broke in to assault him.

"You placed children in real peril of being injured.

"You were there to deal to him, which you did.

"It couldn't get much worse."

Thomson had kicked open a locked door to find Toa in his own bed where he was entitled to feel safe.

However, the judge said Thomson's letter of apology, offer of $2000 in emotional harm reparations and his previous commitment to rehabilitation for his methamphetamine habit needed to be recognised.

The judge said Thomson showed little empathy for his victim but was extremely sorry a child was present when the attack occurred.

Earlier, defence lawyer Paul Keegan asked for home detention for his client who had immediately "coughed" to the crime.

Thomson was the main earner for his young family and a valued worker.

His convictions over methamphetamine in the past were of the lower level and the result of him being a habitual user, the prime reason for his earlier offending. But he was arguably now rehabilitated and abstinent, and drug-testing at his work had been negative for quite some time.

Judge Lynch declined to impose home detention, jailing Thomson for 18 months followed by standard release conditions for six months following release.

The judge ordered Thomson pay emotional harm reparation of $1750.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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