Waikato opera singer admits assaults on ex-girlfriend

22:09, Jun 07 2013
Chase Douglas
Admitted violence: Chase Douglas at Hamilton District Court.

A leading Waikato scholar and opera singer is fighting to clear his name after admitting assaulting his ex-girlfriend three times.

Chase Douglas, 23, is seeking a discharge without conviction for the assaults - carried out between August and October 2011 - claiming a criminal record would impede his ability to perform overseas.

Judge Glen Marshall, sitting in the Hamilton District Court yesterday, reserved his decision until later this month.

Douglas recently completed his bachelor of music with honours (majoring in performance), receiving first-class honours at the University of Waikato, under the tutelage of Dame Malvina Major. He is now enrolled to do a master's in music.

While at university, he has been a Sir Edmund Hillary Scholar, and won several awards.

Yesterday, the court heard details of Douglas' three attacks on his former partner.

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On the first occasion he grabbed his victim by her clothing and threw her into a chair. He then threw a bag at her and slapped her.

Later that month he choked her.

The last and most violent incident - in October 2011 - saw Douglas grab the woman by the throat, leaving her struggling to move or breath. Her glasses were broken in the attack.

He then pushed her into a clothes rack before putting her in a headlock and pushing her head inside a blanket.

The court was told about the profound effect the attacks had on Douglas' victim.

Reading from a victim impact statement, the 25-year-old Taiwanese woman spoke of how the couple met at Waikato University, the relationship soon becoming "unstable".

"He choked my neck more than once and used a blanket to stop me from breathing and slap my face which caused a hearing problem, spit on my face, kick me, grab me and throw me on the floor, which caused bruises all over my body."

The victim said she now finds it hard to sleep and suffers regular nightmares. She is constantly afraid someone will break into her flat, or that she will bump into Douglas again.

Douglas' lawyer Glen Prentice said his client accepted his guilt and was remorseful for his actions and offered $500 in emotional harm.

He said it was difficult to definitively say that a conviction would prevent Douglas from travelling, but it would create "barriers".

"It will mean for the rest of his life he has to apply for a visa every time he travels. The evidence before the court is of a very talented young man."

Douglas had also taken responsibility for the attacks, realised that there was a problem and self-referred to a Living Without Violence programme in Tauranga, completing all 18 sessions.

Mr Prentice said Douglas had also written a letter to the court accepting that what he did was out of line, and "that violence is not the way to solve things".

Douglas refused to comment when approached by The Waikato Times yesterday.

Waikato Times