Axe attacker loses appeal

20:42, Sep 30 2013

A man who invaded a Bluff home and attacked a couple with an axe has had an appeal against his nine-and-a-half-year jail sentence dismissed.

Clayton William Dixon, who was 28 at the time, was sentenced in the Invercargill District Court by Judge Kevin Phillips in April.

The judge ordered a minimum non-parole period of six years.

Dixon had earlier pleaded guilty to two charges of woun- ding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and a charge of aggravated burglary.

The decision says Dixon went to a woman's house in Bluff on October 25 and attacked her and her partner with an axe. After Dixon hit the man with the axe, the woman screamed at him to stop but Dixon struck her with it an unknown number of times.

Dixon then struck her hand, breaking it in numerous places. Dixon left when an associate of the victim arrived, the decision says.


At the sentencing, Judge Phillips took a starting point of 12 years' jail on the lead charge towards the female victim, which took into account the fact there were two victims, the decision says.

Dixon's lawyer David Slater said the judge adopted a starting point which was too high and was overly influenced by the self- reported consequences of the effect of the offending on the female, it says.

Mr Slater said the judge placed "too little weight" on the objective medical evidence of the specialist neurologist's report.

The report said the injury to the brain occurred in an area which was not clinically significant, the pain she reported would not be permanent and there were prospects for her recovery from fatigue, disorientation and speech problems.

Mr Slater also challenged the minium term of imprisonment, which at six years was 63 per cent of the sentence and close to the maximum length of the available minimum term, it says.

But the Court of Appeal decision says there was extreme violence, which was unprovoked, both victims were seriously assaulted with the axe and they had no way of protecting themselves.

The judge was not obliged to go into detail concerning the woman's prognosis and there was sufficient evidence to establish there was a serious injury, it says.

"We are satisfied that the starting point here was available to the judge given all the circumstances of this case and the range of aggravating features of the offending. The effective sentence of nine years and six months was not excessive, having regard to the overall gravity of what occurred."

"Insofar as the minimum term is concerned, we are of the view that it was amply justified having regard to the numerous aggravating features of the offending, and the manifest need to deter the appellant."

The Southland Times