A young man with a medical condition that means he cannot grow hair was bullied and bashed by thugs who mistook him for a skinhead.
Judge Jane Farish sentenced Benjamin Henry Cameron, 17, to five years and six months in prison for bashing the victim with a metal pipe.
Cameron faced two charges of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm in the Christchurch District Court today.
Another attacker, Adam William Naber, now 19, who played a less violent role in the bashing, was granted home detention. He will serve the seven-month term at an address in Darfield.
Naber was charged with assault with intent to injure, and attempting to pervert the course of justice - he had got others to lie to try to stop the police continuing with their investigation.
Judge Farish said the two were being driven home late at night when they passed a car that was stopped. The occupants of that car were having an altercation with the two victims.
The victims - both carpentry apprentices - were walking home, when one of them was taken to be a skinhead because he had a medical condition that prevented him from growing hair.
The second car stopped, and Cameron and Naber and a third man got out and joined in, even though they had never seen the two men before.
Cameron armed himself with a piece of heavy, galvanised pipe.
"Why you thought you needed to arm yourself is beyond me. Neither of these two young men were armed, and were no threat to you whatsoever," Judge Farish said.
Cameron hit one man on the back of his head with the pipe, and smashed the other one in the hand when he put his hand up to protect himself. His hand received multiple injuries and he will never get full use of his thumb back. He still needs more surgery.
Naber joined in by tackling one of the victims to the ground when he had already been struck by Cameron and was bleeding and distressed.
Cameron and Naber fled soon in their car, but they knew the police were on to them, and that is when Naber tried to thwart the investigation.
Crown prosecutor Sara Jamieson said the attack had a serious impact on both victims and it was fortunate that the injuries were not more serious.
Judge Farish said the incident showed Cameron had gone from passive to very aggressive in a short time. It was clear that he was under a strong drug addiction at the time.
"You were basically using anything you could find."
She described him as "a very immature young man", and was pleased that prison had given him time to realise that drugs were a bad idea for him.
Judge Farish urged Cameron to prepare himself to apply for parole by doing the alcohol and drug rehabilitation courses available to him.
Naber had stopped abusing alcohol and was valued by his employer. He had got out of the boy-racer group he had been hanging around with.
She ordered Naber to undergo counselling and treatment as directed by the probation officer.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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