Stabbed in the rib by Shae Luff, his victim's thoughts afterwards were "lock him up and throw away the key, he's nothing but a street thug".
Now Masterton man Bruce McLean is holding his hand out to his attacker, offering to fund him in martial arts to help with his self-esteem.
Mr McLean forgave Luff, 18, at a Restorative Justice meeting after the teenager poured out his heart and apologised about the torrent of abuse and violence he inflicted on Mr McLean and wife Sandy in Ballance St on February 3 as they walked home.
Mr McLean spoke to the Times-Age after Luff was sentenced by Judge Peter Hobbs in Masterton District Court on a charge of injuring with intent. He was sentenced to four months' community detention, nine months' supervision and 180 hours' community work.
On February 3, the couple spent an evening out at a restaurant before heading to the Hurricanes match against the Blues at Memorial Park. As they walked home they came across Luff leaning against a fence looking a bit down, Mr McLean said.
"We came around the corner and the young fella was sitting against the fence. I made a comment such as 'oh, you worried about the Blues' loss mate' and that's when it all went to poo. Basically he got up and abused the s*** out of us."
Luff went inside a nearby house where there was family gathering and moments later Mr McLean said he heard a woman shouting; "he's got a knife" and I looked around and he was about a metre away. I did club him with the wine bag but he got me a couple of times. One in the rib. I thought 'oh goodness, it's all over now'."
Mr McLean was taken to hospital with a 5cm slash, but the rib had stopped the knife from going deeper. He was discharged a short time later. The next day he realised just how serious it could have been.
"You just don't have time to think but the next day I did think 'that was close'."
At the time he had little thought for Luff but at the Restorative Justice meeting held with Ben Fox co-ordinating, Mr McLean said his opinion rapidly changed.
"Until then we didn't know this guy from a bar of soap. He didn't even have to turn up to that meeting but he did. He had no family support and he cried openly throughout the whole meeting.
"We could clearly see this guy is not your run-of-the-mill thug on the street. We saw a totally different Shae."
At the meeting Mrs McLean offered to pay and take Luff to boxing or martial arts.
"We actually felt sorry for Shae because we could see his family life wasn't that great. He hasn't got many friends if any ... he was just in the wrong space when we came across him that night. It was quite sad really because we saw a different side to him ... my immediate thoughts that day were 'lock him up and throw away the key'."
Taking on martial arts would help Luff, he said.
"It's a good leveller. It also gives you discipline and respect and he could probably do with a little of that," he said. "A child in sport is seldom seen in court. An active mind is better than just sitting home doing nothing."
Hate doesn't appear to be an option for this victim. "I totally forgive him. My wife has as well."
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