Judge left puzzled by bizarre burger bust-up

An assault victim got more than he bargained for when he went for a burger fix after a night out drinking in New ...
CHRISTEL YARDLEY/FAIRFAX NZ

An assault victim got more than he bargained for when he went for a burger fix after a night out drinking in New Plymouth. (FiIe photo)

A man who went for a fast-food fix after a night out drinking was the victim of an assault in the drive-thru lane.

About  2.40am on December 4, the offender, Matthew Ross Phillips, was sitting in his car in the drive-thru lane of the McDonald's restaurant on the corner of Eliot and Leach streets in New Plymouth.

Sergeant Lewis Sutton told the New Plymouth District Court that the victim, who was very drunk, had visited the restaurant to get something to eat.

As he walked past Phillips' car, the 25-year-old jumped out of his vehicle and approached the victim, Sutton said.

"Without warning he punched the victim once in the face," he said.

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After the blow, the victim fell to the ground.  Although he did not need medical attention, he suffered a sore face and a bloody nose.

After the one-punch assault, Phillips got back into his car and drove away.

On Thursday, the unemployed man pleaded guilty to a charge of common assault.

Lawyer Nina Laird said the defendant was dealing with personal problems but had been accepted into the Salvation Army Bridge programme.

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While Phillips was sober at the time he punched the victim, Laird said he claimed he had been subjected to some verbal abuse from the man before the assault.

"He acknowledges that his reaction to this was not called for in any way," Laird said.

Judge Garry Barkle said Phillips' behaviour had puzzled him. 

"It's all a bit strange," he said.

The judge said of the cases he dealt with in court it was usually the people who "do the drinking do the hitting".

However, Judge Barkle told Phillips his violent reaction was out of line and ordered him to complete 80 hours of community work. 

 - Stuff

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