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Sentence disappoints

Sean Woollgar says his bike is all right but he isn’t. PHOTO/PAM GRAHAM

Victim’s leg will never be the same

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Carterton’s Sean Woollgar, 56, isn’t happy with the sentence handed down to the young man who essentially attacked him with his car and left him with a bad leg injury and a permanent limp.

Joshua Levi Rowlands, 23, was sentenced in Wellington District Court on Friday to 10 months’ home detention, 200 hours of community work and disqualified from driving for a year.

He was ordered to pay $5000 emotional harm reparation.

Woollgar had wanted to show compassion towards his attacker, who is five years younger than his son in England, and did not want him to go to jail.

There had at one point been the possibility of a charge of assault with a weapon, which can lead to jail-time of 14 years, and a trial in Wellington High Court.

The charges ended up being at a lower level and included causing grievous bodily harm with reckless disregard and Rowlands pleaded guilty to them.

Woollgar says the sentencing gives him closure and he says Rowlands was a sad figure on the day. But he says, 12 months’ disqualification isn’t sending much of a message to drivers.

He was told there is a table that guides judges on how long drivers can be disqualified for.

He says for 10 months of the 12 months Rowlands is disqualified for he can’t drive because he is in home detention.

Woollgar says a disqualification as long as five years would have made him happier and a requirement for the driver to prove they have dealt with their issues and are fit to drive.

He believes the justice system badly needs a fix on the issue of how long licences are lost for.

The story of what happened in November 2017 has been told before.

Woollgar was cycling home from the supermarket in Carterton and nothing happened to trigger the attack.

He was cycling on a wide road with plenty of space and had cycled up on to the footpath to avoid Rowlands, who took him on for no reason. He was cycling on the footpath when rammed by Rowlands in his car.
“He was just looking to do something to somebody,” he says.

He says he heard Rowlands was having a bad day.

Woollgar was lying in pain, his leg so twisted his ankle was beside his ear.

Rowlands stopped and said, “You OK?”, and Woollgar replied, “No, you broke my leg”.

“Serves you right,” Rowlands said, then went back to his car, sat there for a bit and then drove off.

Woollgar was open to meeting Rowlands but was told the restorative justice process was not going to happen.

Then he got a call the day before the sentencing seeking it. Woollgar was suspicious Rowlands was just trying to improve the outcome at the sentencing at the last minute so said no.

Rowlands was driving a car without an L plate and in breach of his limited licence terms.

Woollgar is a self-employed video editor, colourist, and camera operator who lived in Brighton in England where he met Kiwi Alex Williamson and moved here.

He has terrible injuries to his leg. He can ride a bike again but walks with a limp and has been told his leg will never be the same. He will have to have a plate holding his leg together removed in a few years’ time.

Woollgar and his partner have a nine-month-old baby, Bo Anahera.

As new parents, they have had to work at rebuilding Woollgar’s business and his body.

Woollgar has physical restrictions in what he can do as a parent and Williamson was both a new parent and a nurse to her partner.

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