As­sault ‘cat­a­lyst for change in life’

Otago Daily Times - - Court & General - KAY SIN­CLAIR

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.

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