Man guilty of baseball bat attack

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 11:55 24/01/2013

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A jury has found a New Plymouth man guilty of assaulting a younger man, aggravated burglary and assault with a weapon.

The jury returned with its verdict at midday after 2 1/2 hours deliberation  in the New Plymouth District Court
Judge Allan Roberts remanded Jason Eldershaw, 39, on bail for sentencing on April 13 calling for a full pre-sentence report and appendices for both home and community detention.

The Crown said Eldershaw had attacked Trinity Wilson, a passenger in a car outside Tui Dairy.

The younger brother, who was driving, had panicked and driven off back at speed to their Onslow Pl home leaving Eldershaw stuck in the car with his legs dangling out.

Eldershaw returned to the Wilsons' house about a half an hour later with a baseball bat and hit Trinity Wilson on the head with it.

Eldershaw had then fought with Trinity Wilson's father, Dave Wilson - who already hit him earlier - leaving Eldershaw with a cut hand when a window broke.

Eldershaw denied all three charges saying he was the one who was assaulted and abducted by Trinity Wilson and had accidentally hit his victim on the head.  

Eldershaw's co-accused, Kyle Yandle, 39, who was charged as a party to  the aggravated burglary and assault with a weapon changed his plea to guilty on the second day of the three-day trial. Yandle will also be sentenced on April 13.

Accused claims he's the victim

A New Plymouth man accused of assault has told a jury that he was the victim when a car passenger attacked and  abducted him leaving his legs hanging out of the fast-moving vehicle.

Jason Ralph Eldershaw, 39, denies three counts involving two confrontations on the evening of December 22, 2011 in that he assaulted Trinity Wilson by punching him through the window of the car outside Tui Dairy in Merrilands; that he committed aggravated burglary when he and his good mate Kyle John Yandle took vigilante action grabbing baseball bats and going to the victim's nearby house on Onslow Pl; and that he assaulted the same victim when he hit him on the head with the baseball bat.

The Crown says the aggravated burglary charges resulted from the two men unlawfully entering the victim's property with intent to commit a crime while armed with a weapon - the baseball bats.

Giving evidence yesterday, Eldershaw described how he and his partner and two children were heading to the school to kick a ball around after dinner.

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He thought he heard a passenger in a car outside the dairy laugh,  saying  "check out the fat b----" and headed back to the open car window to ask what the man had said.

The passenger then gave him the fingers out of the window. When the car moved to the Give Way sign he put his head in the window and asked the passenger "what the f--- was that about?"

"And he hit me in the face, grabbed my arm and pulled me into his lap all in one motion."

He "absolutely did not" assault Trinity Wilson, Eldershaw said.

The passenger was yelling at the driver "drive, drive, go" and the driver accelerated at high speed turning into Onslow Pl. 

When they stopped he pulled himself out of the car and was hit in the eye by someone and was dropped.

He saw Dave Wilson, who he knew, after he got off the ground.

Eldershaw said he saw a lot of people standing around and said "10 on one is it?" picked up his bag and started walking home with his son.

He was stunned and bleeding. At his home he had a shower and Yandle arrived.

Yandle disappeared and he followed him with a baseball bat back to the Onslow Pl house, concerned Yandle would be outnumbered.

"I was certain he was going to get a hiding. I'd just been beaten up."

In hindsight, he should have retreated.

On the deck of the Wilsons' house he asked for the car passenger.

Eldershaw demonstrated to the jury how he held the baseball bat half-way along its length saying to Trinity Wilson's father: "You are not the problem, he's the f------ problem", pointing at Trinity with the bat and mistakenly hitting him on the head with it.

"Did you intentionally hit him on the head?" his lawyer Barry Henderson asked.

"Absolutely not."

Dave Wilson said to him "Nobody hits my son, drop the bat and we'll sort it out right now."

They fought, a window was broken, and Eldershaw said he cut his hand.

He said to Dave Wilson: "I'm bleeding, it's over."

"I pulled my shirt off and wrapped it around my hand.

At no time did he have violent intentions, he told Mr Henderson.

In cross-examination from Crown prosecutor Justin Marinovich, Eldershaw agreed he did not ring police to report that he had been abducted and assaulted.

He denied he was angry outside the dairy but was "more confused".

It was Eldershaw who who struck out at Trinity Wilson, not the reverse, Mr Marinovich said.

"Absolutely not," Eldershaw replied.

It would not have been possible for the slightly-built Trinity Wilson to have pulled Eldershaw, who was 100kg, into the car, Mr Marinovich said.

Eldershaw had stuck his head in the window and struck the passenger. His brother, who was driving, panicked and drove off, Mr Marinovich said.

Eldershaw replied that he was off-balance at the time.

Mr Marinovich said when Eldershaw got out of the car at Onslow Pl, he had come off second-best.

At the house later, the hit on the head with the baseball bat was purely accidental, Eldershaw said.

He hit him when he was pointing him out to his father.

Eldershaw said Dave Wilson had not told him not to come on to his property.

He just wanted to sort things out face to face with people he mistakenly thought were from Hawera.

Eldershaw denied that a group of friends who arrived on Onslow Pl  in a red Hilux were people Eldershaw had rounded up to sort the problem out.

Eldershaw said it was probably his decision to hide the bats in Te Mete Park.

"I knew this would look very bad. I knew a prosecutor like you would say I hit him on purpose."

Earlier the last Crown witness, Jacob Brooks Parkinson told how he saw Kane and Trinity Wilson return from the dairy in their Nissan. He noticed legs hanging out the passenger's side.

"We all laughed and thought it was one of our mates having fun."

When the car stopped they saw a scuffle and realised it was a serious situation.

The person in the car was trying to punch Trinity but there wasn't enough room.

When they all got out it turned into a brawl.

Four of them including Trinity's father Dave Wilson ran from the house. Mr Wilson senior hit Eldershaw and Eldershaw fell over.

Mr Wilson told Eldershaw to "piss off" and Eldershaw picked up his bag and walked away.

Eldershaw said something to the effect they had all ganged up on him, Mr Parkinson said.

He thought it was all over then about 15 to 20 minutes later he saw two men walking down the street with bats in their hand. He immediately got on his cellphone and rang police.

Eldershaw arrived on the deck saying he wanted to fight Trinity Wilson and "he hit him straight on the head" with the baseball bat.

"He's pumped up. It was a scarey experience. I was packing myself to be honest."

Dave Wilson said to Eldershaw "if you are going to fight anyone you are fighting me".

Both were on the ground rolling around, Mr Parkinson said.

When the ranchslider window broke, Eldershaw said he was bleeding and they both stood up and the two men walked off.

At the beginning of the trial yesterday Yandle pleaded guilty to the burglary charge and the Crown withdrew a charge of assault with a weapon.

He was remanded on bail for a presentence report and sentencing on April 3.

The jury was retired for the night and will reconvene tomorrow.

- Taranaki Daily News

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