West Coast man ordered to apologise to entire town

By Greymouth Star staff

File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

A Dobson man whose drunken expletive-laden rant in Reefton included headbutting a window and abusing pensioners walking down the street, has been ordered to make a public apology to the entire Reefton community.

Thomas Francis Gillee O'Brien, 20, must publish an open letter of apology in the Reefton Clarion newsletter.

He also has to pay $1000 reparation and deliver a trailer load of rata to one of his victims.

The punishment was thrashed out at a restorative justice conference and agreed to in the Greymouth District Court on Friday after O'Brien admitted charges of disorderly behaviour, wilful damage and assault.

About noon on December 30, O'Brien was a passenger in a ute that was half-parked on the footpath outside the Reef Cottage Cafe on Broadway. Several people, including children, were in the cafe and on the street.

One of three men in the ute, O'Brien got out and immediately began abusing people.

When an elderly couple walked by he swore at them and told them to "get off the footpath."

Then, when a woman who was inside cleaning a window in a nearby business yelled that he should stop abusing people and leave the town, O'Brien said: "Shut your mouth you gabby tooth sl**", and "I'll have you."

He then headbutted the window, breaking it.

A man who heard the commotion came out to remonstrate with O'Brien and was also abused. He then ran at the local man and thrust the heel of his left hand into the jaw of his victim before his associates urged him to get into the vehicle and they drove off.

O'Brien told police he recalled headbutting the window but denied the abusive language, saying that he would never talk like that. He also denied the assault but accepted that he might have staggered into the man because of his state of intoxication.

It only cost $110 to repair the window but O'Brien agreed to pay $1000 because the building owner was unable to get it fixed over the long New Year's weekend, and was therefore unable to rent it out for a week.

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