Vicious beating for drug debt

James Kevin Hogan believes that his latest jail term for inflicting a drug debt beating could be a life sentence.

"My doctor told me I would not have much life left after I turned 40. I've always been a chronic asthmatic. For 30 years I've been a chain smoker. I've got holes in my lungs and half a liver, and I've got emphysema. I had a heart attack in custody seven weeks ago," the 43-year-old told the judge at the Christchurch District today.

A jury found Hogan guilty of armed burglary and Judge Jane Farish sentenced him to six years and nine months in prison.

Hogan had gone as part of a group of three to the victim's address to enforce payment for a drug debt.

He used a metal bar or police baton to break the man's finger and wrist, bruise his arms and cause a deep cut to his scalp. The man was seated in an armchair during the beating.

The victim at first refused to pay the drug debt but then let the home invaders take a car in the driveway. It belonged to someone else.

He was a reluctant witness at the trial and refused to provide a victim impact statement, but Judge Farish noted that in his original statement to the police he had named Hogan and said he had "gone too far" with the beating.

Defence counsel Tony Garrett said Hogan worked well when his efforts were "channelled" and there was good discipline. He had worked well on the demolition of a major central city building but had fallen into old habits leading to the latest attack.

Although Hogan had previous convictions for serious violence, they were now 10 years old, and should not lead to his sentence being increased.

Judge Farish agreed with that, and allowed some reduction for his remorse and his health problems. Hogan had been able to provide for his family when he was out of trouble and out of prison but things had "gone haywire" when he had slipped back with old associates and with booze and possibly drugs.

She told Hogan: "Emphysema is a nasty disease and is almost certain to limit your life expectancy."

Coping with the condition in prison would not be pleasant, but she was sure that the prison had adequate medical services to provide for Hogan's needs.

The Press