Seconds of violence, years of prison

Cowardly attacks seem to be prominent in the news at the moment. Sometimes referred to as ‘king hits’ vicious unprovoked attacks are gutless and dangerous.

Consequences can be severe, both for the victims and for the thugs.

Some assaults result in death, many result in months or years of suffering and hardship for the victims.

So the repercussions for the attackers must be severe, whether it is a result of a few seconds of drunken stupidity or not. A drunken thug is still a thug.

Yet another example via the ODT: Jailed for 10-second assault

Ten seconds was all it took to change two lives forever.

An 18-year-old, filmed on CCTV in an unprovoked, violent assault on a man he had rendered unconscious, was sentenced yesterday to three years and nine months in jail.

Six months after the attack, the 43-year-old victim is still feeling the effects, and is nervous about going out at night, the Alexandra District Court was told.

Niko William Vernon Reid-Manuel (18), of Cromwell, appeared in court for sentencing on charges of causing grievous bodily harm to Gareth Owen Wynn on February 27 at Cromwell, with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. He was also charged with stealing Mr Wynn’s $15 sunglasses after the assault.

Judge Kevin Phillips said Reid-Manuel attacked the victim when the man was lying on the ground, unconscious.

The defendant had punched the victim hard on the jaw and Mr Wynn fell to the ground unconscious “in what would probably be described by a television programme as similar to a king hit”, Judge Phillips said.

Following that blow, CCTV footage showed a short period of time – 10 seconds – of “extreme violence” Reid-Manuel had inflicted on the unconscious man.

“You went out of your way to inflict serious injury. You attacked the victim’s head and attacked him when he was out cold.

“… he received several punches to his head and body; he could not offer any defence of his body whatsoever. You moved off and then came back and kicked his head. You returned and then took the sunglasses.”

The victim received fractures to his cheekbone, nose, jaw, eye socket and ribs and numerous cuts and abrasions, Judge Phillips said.

“This type of street violence, unprovoked, gratuitous type of violence, has to be strongly denounced.”

An unprovoked punch is bad enough, but continuing to assault an unconscious person is despicable.

Crown counsel Craig Power said it was a “short but extremely violent attack”.

“It’s very important to state the significant effect this had on the victim. He lost his job, has ongoing effects from broken ribs, and is extremely cautious and wary about going out at night. … he didn’t do anything to start this dispute,” Mr Power said.

The pre-sentence report said the defendant showed little remorse or empathy.

Not just gutless, also remorseless.

Counsel Russell Checketts said Reid-Manuel was a first offender.

The defendant had been in a fight before this one and “came off the worst” and was concerned the same thing would happen again, Mr Checketts said. He accepted the victim’s injuries were serious but said fortunately the victim did not require any surgery and was not permanently disabled.

Lawyers have to try something but that is a very lame defence. Trying to play down the severity if the viciousness ignores the facts.

About the only fortunate thing is that Reid-Manuel wasn’t facing manslaughter charges – fortunate for the victim.

This sort of violence must be learned somewhere. It is a major stain on New Zealand society.