Eight years in jail a good result for victim

DAVID CLARKSON AND JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 05:00 30/01/2014
Sam Doyle
Kirk Hargreaves/Fairfax NZ
SCARRED: Sam Doyle was stabbed in the skull during the February attack.
Nivard Juan Caine Smith
GUILTY: Nivard Smith has been convicted of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

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A Christchurch man stabbed in the head with a 9cm blade says the jailing of his attacker for eight years is a "good result".

Nivard Juan Cain Smith, 21, was yesterday jailed for eight years and three months for stabbing Sam Doyle, 21, in the skull outside a party in Flockton St, St Albans, on February 16, 2013.

The knife was embedded 8cm into Doyle's skull, narrowly missing nerves and vital organs including the optic nerve, but leaving him with ongoing double vision. For Doyle, yesterday marked the end of a more than year-long ordeal and he was "absolutely stoked" by the sentence. He attended yesterday's court proceedings supported by family.

"We were pretty keen to see a good result which we got," he said.

"The judge made an example of him so that's good."

Doyle mainly wanted to "shout out" to Constable Carl Christensen, whom he credited with saving his life. Christensen, who had medical training and had been an ambulance officer, ensured the knife was not removed and applied bandaging.

Doyle's father, Tony, was at the party that "quite traumatic" night.

"We're pleased that they've seen the serious nature of it. It gives you faith in the legal system."

Christchurch District Court Judge Brian Callaghan imposed the jail sentence after defence lawyer Phillip Allan asked him not to "crush" the offender with a heavy jail term.

Smith, who denied that the stabbing was deliberate, was convicted at trial on a charge of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

Crown prosecutor Catherine Butchard said there had been no injuries inflicted and no immediate threat from Doyle, who was wearing a cast because he had broken his arm.

It was good fortune that he was not injured fatally or had brain damage. There were ongoing issues for Doyle, including the need for more surgery to try to correct double vision. He had been emotionally affected, and "now had an anxiety disorder".

Butchard said the offence had occurred while Smith was on a sentence of supervision, and he had amassed various convictions, including two for assaults on women.

Allan said Smith was remorseful and had written a letter of apology to the victim.

The knife was removed in a delicate operation at Christchurch Hospital.

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"To say the complainant was lucky is an understatement," said the judge.

Doyle and his family and friends had thought it was the end for him.

Had it not been for the "sterling efforts" at the scene by Christensen, "the complainant would have had severe and lasting injuries," the judge said.

"His life was in a precarious position as he lay in the gutter with the knife protruding from his head."

Smith told the trial that he had taken the knife away from someone else, for safety, and was planning to throw it away. He believed he was going to be hit by Doyle, and accidentally stabbed him as he tried to deflect the blow, while he was holding the knife.

The judge said the explanation was "wholly implausible" and it had been rejected by the jury.

The judge ruled out imposing a non-parole term. Smith's rehabilitation could be easily managed by the parole system, he said.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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