A Nelson man who became so enraged after running out of legal highs that he assaulted his partner with a mop handle, hitting her so hard the handle snapped, has been given a sentence of home detention.
Sam Onofia, 21, was sentenced in the Nelson District Court yesterday on a charge of assault with a blunt instrument.
Delivering his sentence, Judge Richard Russell said the incident on July 31 was a nasty assault that he should be ashamed of.
He said according to police, Onofia became annoyed that he had run out of legal highs and began to "hassle" the victim, his partner at the time with whom he had a three-month-year old child at the time of the offending.
He picked up a 1.2-metre-long mop handle and hit her on a forearm, her lower back and one of her legs.
The force of his blows was enough to snap the mop in half.
As he was hitting her, he told her "you f...... b...., you are cheating on me".
She received serious bruising as a result of the attack.
He told police he hit her with the mop handle because she had tried to strangle him.
Judge Russell said Onofia had previous assault charges in the district court and the youth court, including assaulting the police and other women.
He said a pre-sentence report suggesting that Onofia had no remorse for the incident was concerning. A protection order was initially sought by the victim, but she later changed her mind.
The report also suggested Onofia's use of drugs and alcohol was a significant impediment to progress in his life.
Defence lawyer Luke Acland said his client was at a loss to explain his conduct, and it was clear from his history that he had a tendency to lose control as a result of substance dependency.
He also had issues with language and cultural differences, which had prevented him from engaging with social workers and others.
Judge Russell said Onofia would have been looking at a jail sentence of about 11 months, but he would use his discretion to give him a home detention sentence instead.
"This was a nasty assault on your partner, the mother of your child, any way you look at it."
While the victim had no lasting physical injuries, she would likely have long-term psychological consequences. "You should be ashamed of yourself and very sorry indeed for what you have done."
Onofia's criminal history was concerning for someone so young, he said.
He sentenced Onofia to five months of home detention and 150 hours of community work.
He also ordered him to complete a domestic violence programme, drug and alcohol counselling, and to pay the victim $300 for causing her emotional harm.
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