Mike Yardley: Harder line needed on assault penalties

Author
Mike Yardley,
Publish Date
Fri, 10 Jul 2020, 7:33PM
Photo / Thinkstock

Mike Yardley: Harder line needed on assault penalties

Author
Mike Yardley,
Publish Date
Fri, 10 Jul 2020, 7:33PM

How many times have we heard of entertainers, sportsmen or aspiring stars with bright futures appearing in court for their thuggish crimes, only to be discharged without conviction.

How many times have we heard the tired old sob stories from their legal counsel, about how a conviction for an assault, no matter how brutal or depraved , would cause irreparable damage to their clients career prospects and their ability to travel overseas? That a conviction against their name would inflict lasting damage on their potential to pursue their chosen profession and full earning potential. It’s a cynical old canard which is wheeled out on cue.

And many members of our judiciary will dutifully oblige, issuing a discharge without conviction – even when the gravity of the assault is at the higher-end of offending.

It completely undercuts society’s expectation that the courts will hold violent offenders to account and uphold our revulsion of domestic violence.

Enter Robin Ihaka Ainsley. A twenty one year old who pleaded guilty in the Dunedin District Court to assault, after a vile, terrifying and sustained physical attack on his former girlfriend. What’s worse, he hounded her demanding she seem him, before unleashing this attack. I’ll spare you the raw details of his onslaught. But check out the Herald if you want the blow by blow.

Ainsley is a national sporting representative, in rugby and wrestling. He’s got huge international prospects, he’s a much-lauded student-athlete. But his lawyer’s bid for a discharge without conviction, given the quote “dire” ramifications was skittled. Judge Michael Crosbie wasn’t buying it, despite accepting a conviction will impact on his life. Hopefully for the better. And he sentenced Ainsley to nine months supervision. Ainsley should count himself lucky he wasn’t jailed.

But consequences do matter. And don’t get me started on this trumped up nonsense about not being able to travel to the likes of the US if you’ve got a conviction. Kiwis routinely get granted exemptions to that hurdle, if you’ve kept yourself out of trouble. That’s the task before Ronin Ainsley, now. Turn a new leaf. And I wish him well. Bravo, Judge Crosbie.