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ROTORUA - A ground- breaking Court of Appeal decision relating to the bashing of a Ngongotaha man left brain damaged could mean young nuisance offenders like burglars won't go to jail.

The decision relates to Adam Anish Chand- Whakaue, a 14-year-old who pleaded guilty in the Rotorua District Court to his part in a vicious attack on Graeme Managh in 2005.

Chand-Whakaue has had his 18-month jail term overturned and replaced with 200 hours' community work and 18 months' supervision.

His lawyer, Harry Edward, has called for the Government to change the wording of the Sentencing Act.

He said although he was pleased his client did not have to go to jail, the decision meant serious offenders under 17 - such as those who committed burglaries and thefts from cars - escaped jail terms.

He said the Government needed to change the wording of the act quickly.

Chand-Whakaue was originally jailed because the charge he pleaded guilty to, injuring with intent to injure, is considered an "indictable charge". Charges such as murder and grievous bodily harm are known as "purely indictable charges".

"This decision says that unless it is a purely indictable charge, those aged under 17 can't be sent to jail."

Mr Edward said either this case had to be revisited in the Supreme Court or the Government had to change the wording of the Sentencing Act.

"Because given this decision ... people charged with serious offences, like committing burglaries all over the place ... can't be sent to prison."

Chand-Whakaue was one of three charged over the assault.

Managh spent several weeks in hospital as well as at a special centre in Hamilton for those with brain injuries.

He now lives in Auckland and although he can walk and talk, he has life-long brain injuries.

- NZPA