Baby basher jailed after breaching home detention rules

Author
NZ Herald,
Section
Crime,
Publish Date
Thursday, 14 June 2018, 1:03p.m.
The 20-year-old Waikato man was sentenced to 9 months home detention on March 20 for a string of violent attacks on his family. (Photo \ 123RF)
The 20-year-old Waikato man was sentenced to 9 months home detention on March 20 for a string of violent attacks on his family. (Photo \ 123RF)

A violent offender who breached home detention for bashing his 9-month-old son and partner less than 24 hours after being sentenced - by going to the pub - has been sent to prison.

The 20-year-old Waikato man was sentenced to 9 months home detention on March 20 for a string of violent attacks on his family.

The Herald revealed that he beat his baby son after becoming frustrated with his continual grizzling - the result of teething.

The man struck the baby repeatedly on his face and head and grabbed him by the chin and mouth to stifle his cries.

He then forced something solid in the infant's mouth causing a tear between his tongue and base of his mouth.
From the next room the baby's mother could hear her partner say: "F*** up, shut up you little c***".

She threatened to call the police as the attack on the baby continued.

He then turned on her, threatening to burn her with a hot pan before pushing her towards
the ground and kicking her legs, hip and shoulder.

He admitted both assaults - and earlier assaults on his partner including while she was
pregnant.

Judge Denise Saunders sentenced the man on the evening on March 20.

The next day he went to a local pub and was arrested again.
He has since remained in custody as Corrections fought to have his sentence cancelled and replaced with a term of imprisonment.

On Monday the matter was brought back before Judge Saunders, who released her decision on the man's sentence today.

Corrections' prosecutor Adam Pell told the court that the afternoon after the man was sentenced a probation officer visited the property he was living at to arrange the home detention monitoring.
The officer told the man clearly where the boundaries of the property were and explained the conditions and what would happen if he breached.

The man understood and signed paperwork accordingly.

But six hours later his GPS bracelet was tracked to a pub about a kilometre away.

Defence lawyer Sacha Nepe said the man had a good excuse for breaching his conditions.

His cousins had come to the house shortly after the probation officer left and they sat talking around a table outside.

When the cousins left the man realised one of them had taken his cigarettes and credit card.

He knew they had gone to the pub so, when his aunt turned up at the house minutes later he asked her to take him to collect his property.

He said he could not ask his mother to go for him as she was asleep in her room and the others at the house were underage and unable to enter a bar.

The man said the credit card had the family's only money for food on it and he was worried it would get spent.

"I wasn't thinking at the time," he told the court.

"I grabbed my smokes and my credit card, jumped back in the car and went back home."

When he got home his mother was on the phone to Corrections.

After realising he had left the property she rang to report him.

He was heard telling her that he had not left, then changing his story to say he had been
in a shed on the property.

In court he conceded he had made "a dumb decision".

Pell put it to the man that he was lying - and in fact had gone to the pub with friends and only come home when he got word from a relative that Corrections were aware of the breach.

Pell also suggested the man's aunt, who gave evidence about taking him to and from the pub, had been told what to say in court.

The man denied both accusations, maintaining his story.

Pell said the breach was "flagrant".

The man's earlier assaults on his partner came after he had been drinking and Pell said the fact he had gone to a pub soon after being sentenced was "very concerning".

He said the man also had a history of breaching court-imposed conditions and it was "very clear" that the only appropriate course of action was to send him to prison.

He said leaving the man on home detention was "setting him up to fail" as he had repeatedly shown an "inability" to comply with court orders.

Nepe argued the breach was minor and did not mean he was not a "suitable candidate" for home detention.

She agreed alcohol had been a factor in his offending but said he had not consumed it during his visit to the pub.

"This is a young man who hasn't thought through the consequences of his decision making - and poor decision making it has been," she said.

"The suggestion that this was a flagrant and deliberate act of disregard for the sentence of home detention - that's not the situation at all.

"He is a young man who acted first and thought second."

Nepe said her client had "accepted responsibility" for his actions.

"That doesn't mean the sentence should be cancelled," she said.

Being held in custody since the breach had been "sobering" for the man.

"He's a young man who's made a mistake," Nepe said.

"He's gone down a path he should not have gone down.

Today Judge Saunders, after giving consideration to both Pell and Nepe's submissions, delivered her decision.

She revoked the sentence of home detention and replaced it with a sentence of two years and one month jail.

She also imposed an extra month to his term to reflect the breach of the original sentence.

"It's clear to me that there was a deliberate breach, that that breach was very close to the start of the home detention sentence," Judge Clark said.

"(The man) acknowledged he understood his responsibilities under that sentence … on 21 March he didn't, in my view, make any real attempts to look at alternatives to the issue that he faced, that he lied as to his whereabouts and he has some previous non-compliance in his background in respect of his sentence of intensive supervision.

"I am satisfied that there is an appreciable risk of non-compliance in the future and find that (he) is unsuitable to continue his sentence of home detention."

Judge Clark described the offending as a "rapid breach of his sentence in a significant way".

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