Learn from me - victim to assailants

21:45, Nov 11 2012

An Invercargill man who was assaulted by a group of teenagers was convicted for committing an assault of his own many years ago, but he has urged young people to think about the lasting consequences of their misbehaviour.

Marty Keen was attacked in Russell Square in the early hours of October 28.

He said he had been sentenced to 27 months' jail in the early 1990s at the age of 20, for kidnapping a man and assaulting a police officer.

While he had not been "the rosiest guy in the world" in his younger years, he remembered the day he was sentenced - December 18, 1992 - as when he realised things had to change.

"I had to grow up then."

Now 42, it was while in prison that he had completed a cognitive skills programme that he credited with helping him move away from violence.

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"I think it opened my eyes. It was all about working out your actions and the reactions that those actions will bring, and the consequences of them . . . I think about that all the time now. It's just an everyday occurrence for me these days," he said.

His children had also been part of that change.

"I've got to lead by example."

His biggest piece of advice for those who were finding themselves going down the wrong path in life was to focus on their work.

The solo parent of two young children said he wanted to look forward.

"When I was going for custody for my kids in the courthouse and that, they tried to bring my history up, but all I can say to that is it's history - that's all it is, history. We're talking about the future now and that's what I look forward to . . . you can't forget about the past things otherwise you'll do it again. But you look to the future."

Ruru Specialist School pupil Chris Bode, 20, and another man rushed to help after they heard the assault, which left Mr Keen with a broken nose and a fractured eye socket.

Invercargill area tactical response manager Inspector Olaf Jensen said Russell Square was covered by the South Invercargill neighbourhood policing team and was a focus for patrols.

There were common-sense steps people could take to minimise risk when they were in green-belt areas.

"You shouldn't be walking alone intoxicated, because you make yourself vulnerable and again there's still females [seen at night by police patrols] in varying states of intoxication walking alone . . ." he said.

"Number one, people should look after themselves, and secondly, if you're out with someone and for whatever reason they become intoxicated or are of a mind to walk home by themselves, look after them."

The Southland Times