Assault ‘catalyst for change in life’
A DUNEDIN engineer assaulted his wife during an argument, squeezing her throat so hard she found it difficult to breathe, then hit her forcefully with her own cellphone when she tried to call for help, the Dunedin District Court heard yesterday.
Jason Dean Scott (27) had admitted assaulting his wife with intent to injure her at their home on May 20 this year.
The charge arose from an incident about 2.30pm, when the woman was in the bathroom getting ready for their son’s third birthday party. The couple began arguing and Scott became agitated. He left the bathroom. The woman remained behind.
When he yelled at her from the bedroom, she did not reply for fear of agitating him further, the police summary of facts said.
Scott returned to the bathroom, yelled at his wife that she had ruined his life and grabbed her around the throat with his right hand, squeezing tightly enough to prevent her breathing and causing pain. He also put his other hand behind her head, pulling her towards him and yelling in her face.
She was able to free herself, pushed him away and tried to call police on her cellphone. Scott grabbed the phone and refused to return it.
He walked out of the house and held the door closed so his wife could not follow him.
When he saw her go to a window to call to the neighbours for help, he went over and swung at her, striking her forcefully on the side of her face, near her left eye, with his right hand, which was holding her cellphone.
The defendant immediately left. The victim ran to the neighbours and contacted police. The assault left her with scratches and redness to her throat, discomfort to her left shoulder, and a painful, swollen and blackened left eye. But she did not not need medical attention.
Counsel Andy Belcher said Scott immediately took steps to address his violence and anger issues. He had engaged ‘‘in a meaningful way’’ with a Stopping Violence course and had made ‘‘an impressive effort at rehabilitation’’, regularly attending treatment and courses focusing on managing his anger and other stressors such as depression.
Scott now recognised his marriage was over, and that had been a big part of his rehabilitation, Mr Belcher said.
He had also been to Family Court and was subject to a protection order. And he realised what an impact his lack of selfcontrol had had on his son’s life.
Scott and his wife were now moving to a shared care arrangement and a sentence of home detention would make that difficult, Mr Belcher said.
Judge Turner told Scott he could be jailed for the assault. Domestic violence was acknowledged to be ‘‘a scourge’’ and the use of strangulation an aggravating factor because of the risk to the victim.
But the judge took into account the defendant was a first offender, had taken immediate steps to do something about his behaviour, was genuinely remorseful and pleaded guilty early.
He accepted the offending had been ‘‘a catalyst for change’’ in the defendant’s life.
He sentenced Scott to a combination of four months’ community detention, with a 7pm Friday to 6am Monday curfew, 100 hours’ community work and nine months’ supervision with a domestic violence programme.