Nelson 18-year-old Liam James Flemming has been sentenced for his part in a Buxton Square brawl that left a Timaru teen fighting for his life with serious head injuries.
Flemming admitted one charge of disorderly behaviour likely to cause violence, appearing before Judge Tony Zohrab at the Nelson District Court after police denied his application for diversion.
Nineteen-year-old Timaru man Triton Thompson suffered serious head injuries after being knocked out during the Buxton Square brawl on June 2. He has since made a full recovery.
Flemming and several Nelson associates had been drinking in the Shark Club on Bridge St.
The group had a minor altercation with two men from Timaru, before the Timaru men were thrown out of the bar.
A fight between the two groups broke out in Buxton Square behind the club shortly after, during which Mr Thompson was knocked to the ground and allegedly kicked in the head. He suffered a bleed on the brain and was transferred to Wellington Hospital in a critical condition.
Defence lawyer Ian Holloway and prosecutor Chris Stringer both accepted that Flemming played a minor part in the scrap.
Mr Stringer said Flemming had admitted grabbing a man and pushing him against a window during the fight, and that Flemming told police "when your mate is involved you know you are going to stick up for them".
Flemming also told police: "I guess we wanted a rumble. We were drunk and looking for trouble," Mr Stringer said.
Mr Holloway said Flemming was in his first year of an automotive engineering course at NMIT and he had been embarrassed by the publicity surrounding the case.
Mr Holloway said the incident had been a "wake-up call" for Flemming, regarding his alcohol intake. Flemming had not drunk alcohol since that night.
Judge Tony Zohrab said there was often publicity about youngsters scrapping on New Zealand streets at night, and that his embarrassment was not a mitigating factor.
"It could easily have been you on the ground, and someone comes along and puts the boot in, and then your studies would be done because you would be brain damaged," he told Flemming, adding that it was lucky Mr Thompson was able to fully recover.
Judge Zohrab ordered Flemming to do 40 hours of community work, and to pay $300 in emotional harm reparation to Mr Thompson.
He said, while it would be a good thing for Flemming to limit his alcohol intake, he was doubtful he had truly stopped drinking.
"If I had a dollar for every time someone told me that, I'd be very wealthy," Judge Zohrab said.
- © Fairfax NZ News