An Australian who broke a Queenstown man's jaw in two places early on Monday was yesterday fined $3500 and ordered to pay $5000 emotional harm reparation to the victim before returning to Australia.
Shane Anthony Howard Tempest, 37, appeared in the Queenstown District Court and admitted injuring Markus Laxholm with intent but, through duty solicitor Sonia Vidal, said he did not intend to injure him.
Mr Laxholm, an overseas national living and working in Queenstown, underwent surgery to repair his jaw in Southland Hospital on Monday.
Prosecuting Sergeant Ian Collins said Tempest was leaving Winnies restaurant in The Mall at 2.30am on Monday.
He became involved in an altercation with unknown people, pushing the victim to the ground. He then "kicked him to the head forcefully", causing Mr Laxholm to lose consciousness.
Police were called and Tempest was taken to the Queenstown Police Station, where he said the victim had been pushed towards him and he had "tried to protect himself" by pushing Mr Laxholm away.
He "did not intend" to kick the victim, but his "foot was out" and Mr Laxholm struck his head on it as he hit the floor.
Ms Vidal said Tempest had $5000 available for the victim and funds for a "significant" fine.
Tempest had been in Queenstown tramping with a friend and had been due to return to Australia on Monday afternoon.
He had consumed Jagerbombs - something he wouldn't normally drink - and he was "embarrassed" about his conduct under the influence of alcohol, she said.
"He is extremely remorseful for his actions. He does feel extremely bad for the victim."
Ms Vidal said the conviction would affect his ability to return to New Zealand, a country he visited twice a year.
Judge John Strettell said it was "not clear" whether the charge reflected the level of offending, particularly if Tempest's statement that he did not intend to injure Mr Laxholm was accepted.
Issues relevant to penalty included letters from Tempest's wife and parents stating the offending was "very out of character" and Tempest's statement it was unintentional.
Had it been intentional, there was a "strong likelihood" a prison term might follow, which may have been reduced to a community-based sentence or home detention.
"For persons from overseas, that isn't an option," Judge Strettell said.
In Tempest's case, there were grounds to deal with it by way of fine - those grounds included his ability to pay reparation.
"Undoubtedly in this case, the payment proposed is a significant amount and is not done in order to attempt to buy the defendant's freedom.
"It's done because there's a background of remorse ..."