Man admits assault on a yacht

Last updated 13:00 06/02/2013

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A Picton man at the centre of an armed offenders squad callout in the Marlborough Sounds last year tapped his victim on the chest with a knife, but did not stab him or throw him off a boat, police say.

Jonathon Paul Lonie, 53, was initially charged with wounding and threatening to kill, after a Nelson man told police he was attacked and thrown off Lonie's boat on the night of October 30.

The man walked to Lochmara Lodge the next morning. He said he swam to shore and spent the night in bushes.

The report sparked a two-hour manhunt involving the squad and maritime police from Wellington.

However, the charges were reduced last year, and again in the Blenheim District Court yesterday, where Lonie admitted a charge of assault and was fined $500.

Defence lawyer Tony Bamford said the charges were reduced after it became clear that the victim's account of what happened was physically impossible.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Graham Single said the victim met Lonie when he went to Picton for a holiday a few days before the incident.

Lonie offered to take the man on a cruise around the Marlborough Sounds in his yacht, but on the night of October 30 the pair argued while drinking in the boat's cabin.

The argument moved to the deck, and Lonie asked the man to get off his boat and into a dinghy he was towing, Mr Single said.

As the argument continued, Lonie tapped the man on the chest with a knife with a 12cm or 15cm blade, while telling him to get off the boat.

The frightened man jumped into the water, but Lonie turned the boat around and picked him up, Mr Single said.

Lonie then went to sleep, and when he woke the man was gone.

The victim suffered no injuries from Mr Lonie's actions, he said.

Mr Bamford said the pair had been arguing over problems with the boat's engine and the victim's unwillingness to stop fishing while Lonie headed for land to fix the problem.

Lonie picked up the knife while moving some fishing gear during the argument, he said.

Lonie had fully co-operated with police, who were reliant on his evidence because of the impossibility of the other man's story, Mr Bamford said.

Judge Denys Barry said the involvement of a weapon increased the seriousness of any incident, but there was no evidence that Lonie intended to use it.

Lonie had a limited history of violence but admitted having problems with alcohol, Judge Barry said.

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- The Nelson Mail

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