Man lost eye after assault

A South Canterbury man had to have his right eye surgically removed after he was punched in the face outside the Waimate Hotel last year.

Hayden Paul Proudman, 26, was convicted of assault and ordered to pay $1000 reparation when he appeared in the Timaru District Court yesterday.

The court was told that Proudman delivered one punch to Sam Walton, 19, on the right side of the face, causing Walton to fall backwards on to the ground.

The incident took place on the evening of July 25 in the Waimate Hotel car park.

Walton had been drinking with friends Andrew Gillespie and Ellen White at home before heading to the hotel.

While socialising at the hotel they got talking to Proudman.

Police prosecutor Greg Sutherland said an altercation broke out between Gillespie and another man at the bar that resulted in the publican asking the two men to leave.

Walton followed his friend outside, where more punches were exchanged, witnesses told the court.

In his testimony, Walton said he was trying to break up the fight between Gillespie and the other man when Proudman dragged him away and punched him on the right side of his face.

Walton said he saw the punch coming but didn't have time to defend himself.

"I lost vision instantly and it was painful . . . but I thought I just had a black eye," he said.

Proudman said he walked outside to see Gillespie holding the man from behind and Walton punching him.

He said he intervened to help the man and did not strike Walton.

Walton, a dairy farmer, said the next time he saw Proudman was at his house at about 1am when he came into his bedroom to apologise. "I was in bed and he walked in and said ‘I'm sorry for hitting you, I didn't mean to hit you that hard'."

Gillespie and White were also present at the house.

In court, Proudman denied he was at the house to apologise and said he was there because he wanted to see if Walton was all right.

The next day Walton sought medical attention and was taken by ambulance to Timaru Hospital.

"There I was advised to go to Dunedin for an operation."

After three weeks in hospital and five operations, specialists could not save his right eye.

Lawyer Charlotte Clifford told the court that Walton and Gillespie were "rowdy and intoxicated" when they entered the hotel.

Clifford put it to Walton that his recollection of the events on the night could be wrong because he was intoxicated.

When she asked if he could have been mistaken about who hit him, Walton replied "No, I knew who hit me."

Both Gillespie and White gave evidence in support of Walton, testifying that they had seen Proudman deliver "one punch".

In summing up, Judge Joanna Maze said she was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Proudman had struck Walton.

She said Proudman's statement to police and the evidence had marked differences.

The judge said although the events were traumatic and she had no doubt Proudman had stepped in to be a peacemaker at the start, things had got out of control quickly.

"All three witnesses say they saw you strike Walton and there were no other people around."

"While they may have been intoxicated, all three were united in one point, that there was one punch which propelled the victim to fall backwards to the ground."

The Timaru Herald