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Suspended sentence for Winz assault

A 29-year-old man has received a six-month suspended sentence after pleading guilty to the assault of a security guard at a local Work and Income [Winz] office in December last year.

Nathan Dunn, who currently lives in Petone, appeared before Judge Michael Mika yesterday on one charge of common assault.

At midday on December 6, Dunn – who was out of work and homeless at the time of the offence – went to the Masterton Winz office seeking financial assistance.

“The staff weren’t able to help you with your enquiries, and you became angry and frustrated,” Mika said.

“You were asked to leave by staff, but you picked up a steel chair and threw it across the waiting room.”

While being escorted to the exit, the defendant stepped back towards the 65-year-old security guard, causing him to inadvertently touch the defendant’s back.

“You turned around towards the victim and said words to the effect of, ‘don’t you f—king touch me’, and you’ve shoved the victim on the arm and chest, and he has fallen to the ground,” Mika said.

The victim, described by the judge as “vulnerable”, suffered bruising, grazes, and ongoing soreness as a result of the assault and had to take some time off work.

Mika noted Dunn had no prior convictions and that the victim did not oppose Dunn’s application for a discharge without conviction.

He characterised the gravity of Dunn’s offending as “moderate” and accepted his remorse as “genuine”.

“I accept that on this occasion you acted out of character,” Mika said.

Ian Hard, defending counsel, described his client as having “a very good work record” and how he had “worked well in the food industry and is very proud of his customer skills in that regard”.

“He is remorseful, and he realised he behaved badly.”

Mika was unconvinced by Hard’s submission that a conviction would harm his client’s chances of employment and his plans to save money to travel and work abroad.

“There is no evidence of savings or any other support to travel,” Mika said. “Furthermore, visas are a matter for the immigration service, not for this court.

“I am not satisfied that the consequences of conviction would be out of proportion with the gravity of the offending.”

In sentencing, Mika acknowledged Dunn’s mental health struggles and urged him to contact a number provided by the court for advice.

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