A man has gone to jail for a savage attack on a German tourist holidaying in Whangarei who suffered a severe brain injury after he was repeatedly punched and kicked when he refused a request for money.
The sentencing of Brydon Lonsdale, 43, has been welcomed by a tourist leader, who said judges needed to come down hard on people who attacked visitors.
Lonsdale earlier pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated robbery and appeared in the Whangarei District Court for sentencing yesterday. He repeatedly punched and kicked Torstein Schnieder, 48, using steel-capped shoes outside his tent at the end of a four-wheel-drive track in Waipu in the early hours of November 13, 2014 after the tourist refused Lonsdale's demand to hand over $50.
Mr Schnieder was knocked unconscious and was discovered 14 hours later by a passerby who found the tent in disarray and the tourist incoherent.
His possession including a laptop and clothes valued at $6396 were taken by Lonsdale.
His bike and tent were found in a forestry area about 150m off Cove Rd between Mangawhai Heads and Langs Beach.
The attack happened after Lonsdale and his associates spotted a tent while out for a drive after a night out drinking.
Judge Greg Davis said Mr Schnieder was initially taken to the Waipu Medical Centre, then to Whangarei Hospital where he spent 11 days and later transferred to a rehabilitation centre in Auckland where he was admitted for a further 13 days. His injuries were assessed as moderate to severe brain injury and 90 per cent of those who suffered such injuries did not recover, he said.
Crown prosecutor Catherine Anderson said a starting point of imprisonment of between six and seven years was appropriate given the fact Mr Schnieder was kicked on the head which resulted in not just medical but social and lifestyle impact on him. She asked the court to consider ordering reparation.
Lonsdale's lawyer Arthur Fairley said an order for reparation was pointless as Lonsdale had no money and would not have any for a long time.
Lonsdale was ashamed and sorry for his actions, Mr Fairley said.
Judge Davis said Mr Schnieder was particularly vulnerable as he was a tourist, was attacked in the middle of the night, and even when he fell to the ground.
He sentenced Lonsdale to five-and-a-half years in jail but ordered no reparation. Lonsdale's outstanding fines of $1800 were also remitted and he was also given a three-strikes warning.
Reacting to the sentence, Northland tourism leader Jeroen Jongejans said unruly and drunk behaviour was just not on regardless of who was at the receiving end.
"Unfortunately these things happen, not just here, and it's really good people are found and convicted. Judges come down hard on them and rightly so," he said.