Attack on schoolboy lands students in court

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By Court Reporter

 

Updated: Students have convictions quashed

Inflicting a "severe and sustained" beating on a boy he perceived as a rival suitor has earned a Wanganui Collegiate School old boy a five-month jail sentence.

His associate, who did not take part in the fight but actively prevented others from going to the victim's aid, was sentenced to four months' jail.

Those sentences were respectively imposed on Hautahi Kingi, 19, student, of Maxwell, and Guy McEwen, 19, student, of New Plymouth, by Judge John Clapham in the Wanganui District Court.

They had previously pleaded guilty to a joint charge of injuring with intent to injure.

The charge flowed from an incident in the grounds of Wanganui Collegiate School on July 1 last year where the two defendants had been attending a concert. The victim, then a Collegiate student, was at the same event.

Since then the two men have been on the Restorative Justice programme. It was their commitment to, and performance while on, that programme that resulted in considerably shorter jail sentences than would otherwise have been imposed.

Crown solicitor Stephen Ross suggested a "starting point" of one year's jail with three months' discount for having been through the restorative justice process.

He said the assault was no school playground fight.

The two defendants had "acted as street thugs engaging in street fighting".

There was also an element of premeditation in that Kingi had sent threatening text messages to his intended victim the week before.

While defence counsel Lance Rowe for Kingi, and Roger Crowley for McEwen were seeking a discharge without conviction for both offenders, Mr Ross argued that, even with positive restorative justice outcomes, that was not a credible option.

And Judge Clapham made it clear he did not consider that an option either.

He told the court the offence had involved serious violence, on a par with the "thuggery" he had often had to deal with in his long period as a judge in South Auckland.

Judge Clapham said Wednesday afternoon's sentencing was one of the most difficult he had faced in more than 16 years on the bench.

He said it was always "sad" when gifted young people fall from grace. It was sad for parents to have to accept the frailty of a child. It was sad that young men still thought little weight attached to their choices and the consequences and turned to violence as a means of settling issues.

Leading up to his decision, Judge Clapham pondered aloud on the notion that "some of us who are elite might think we are above the law and free to do as we wish, to dictate to others, impose our will even to the point of beating someone senseless."

"However, I have put that idea to one side because the actuality here is different," he said.

At the time of the offending, both Kingi and McEwen were first-year students at Victoria University, in Wellington, having completed their secondary education at Collegiate as high achievers in academic and sporting fields. Both were tipped to go on to high achievements in the wider world.

Both Mr Rowe and Mr Crowley made lengthy submissions pleading for non-custodial sentences for their respective clients on the grounds of their past achievements and contributions and their future potential.

Mr Crowley described the incident that brought the two men before the court as "a moment of madness".

The offenders had subsequently accepted responsibility, were remorseful and, through the restorative justice programme, had "done everything in their power to put things right".

While Judge Clapham accepted and acknowledged those things, he maintained his view that because of the seriousness of the offending there was "no other penalty than jail".

However, Kingi and McEwen are unlikely to see the inside of prison.

With regard to their ages, and a belief that neither would reoffend or posed any risk to the community, Judge Clapham granted both men leave to apply for home detention and deferred the start of their prison sentences until those applications are dealt with.

Each defendant was also ordered to pay $2000 reparation to the victim for emotional harm.

CONVICTIONS QUASHED:

Two students have had their convictions for assaulting a Wanganui Collegiate School boy quashed.

In an appeal in the High Court at Wanganui in September 2007 Hautahi Rawiri Kingi and a co-accused, Guy Francis McEwen, were discharged without conviction by Judge Simon France, who said he didn't consider a custodial sentence was appropriate or required in the circumstances.

Judge France deemed them two young men of "great promise" who had significantly erred.

 

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