Man narrowly avoids time in jail

BELINDA FEEK
Last updated 05:00 26/10/2012

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A Hamilton man bit part of another man's ear off in a bar fight because he believed he'd abused his wife.

Tehau McGeorge, 21, this week narrowly avoided a jail sentence, instead receiving 12 months' home detention after the June 15 attack at a Hamilton pub.

Judge Philip Connell was also swayed to avoid sending McGeorge to prison on the charge of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm after McGeorge's mother described how his whanau was "shocked and stunned and appalled" at his "hideous act".

The fight happened when another drinker made a comment about McGeorge's wife.

McGeorge's demeanour changed. As he became agitated and aggressive his friends and the bar manager tried to calm him down. He left the bar, but returned about an hour later.

He said something to the victim, before shoulder-charging him. The two men then fell to the ground, with McGeorge putting his body weight on his opponent, before punching him in the head and torso.

His friends and the bar manager intervened again, and McGeorge became more enraged. As his arms were restrained he leaned forward and bit off a piece of the man's ear.

The victim was taken to hospital and underwent surgery.

He has since required plastic surgery and in a victim impact statement said he was baffled as to what he said to McGeorge to make him so angry.

He said he knew McGeorge's wife about five years ago but there was nothing more than that.

McGeorge's counsel, Kerry Burrows, said there was an element of provocation in the attack, as the victim had said something about McGeorge's wife.

"He's gone away and stewed over it and got into a state where he wants to mete out some justice for whatever perceived wrong had been done to him or his wife."

McGeorge's mother also made a plea to Judge Connell not to send her son to prison.

"When my family learnt of this hideous act we were just so shocked and stunned and appalled at this act done by my son because normally he is shy and quiet and very slow to anger and is a happy-go-lucky person."

She said their family often thought about the victim and wished him a full and quick recovery.

Judge Connell also doubted there was any provocation and said although McGeorge had a relatively clean history - with just two previous drink-driving convictions - they all involved alcohol.

"Other than that, there's something of a story to be told, as I've indicated you are someone with an alcohol problem . . . When you have alcohol you do stupid things."

Judge Connell took into account that McGeorge had been helping himself by attending alcohol and anger management counselling sessions, accepted that his remorse was genuine and his offer to pay reparation of $1700, the week's wages the man lost for not being able to work.

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McGeorge was also issued a three-strikes warning after being convicted on the charge.

- Waikato Times

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