A Westport man who broke into a woman's house and punched her in the head until she bled has avoided prison.
Robert John Boyer, 28, appeared in the Westport District Court yesterday after admitting charges of burglary and injuring with intent to injure at an earlier appearance.
According to the police summary of facts, Boyer forced his way into the woman's home by breaking the locks on the front door at about 11pm on January 8.
The woman was in her bed. Her 8-year-old son was also at home and was in his own bed.
Boyer went to the woman's bedroom and began punching her in the head, leaving a gash that required stitches.
Three days afterwards, Boyer made a voluntary appearance at the Westport police station.
Judge David Saunders said the ordeal left the woman traumatised, and she had since moved to Australia. "She should have been entitled to feel safe in her own bed."
He questioned how well the people who had written letters affirming Boyer's good character really knew him.
The letters spoke of Boyer's integrity, but his criminal record suggested otherwise.
"Some comments do lack a little bit of credibility."
Defending, Doug Taffs said Boyer was under a lot of emotional stress over a bereavement at the time of his offending, and regretted his actions immediately. Boyer had also already offered to make reparation payments to the victim.
Mr Taffs asked Judge Saunders to consider a sentence of community detention.
Judge Saunders said the gravity of the offending, and the fact Boyer had previous convictions for violence, meant he had chosen a starting point for sentencing of two-and-a-half years imprisonment.
However, he accepted Boyer was immediately remorseful, and gave him credit for that. He also gave him credit for his immediate guilty plea.
Those mitigating factors brought the prison sentence down to 16-18 months, he said.
At that point, one of the many people supporting Boyer in the courtroom walked out.
Judge Saunders went on to say he was obliged to consider an alternative sentence of home detention, because the prison sentence was less than two years.
He said he was satisfied Boyer had enough support from his friends and family to continue rehabilitating while serving home detention.
Such a sentence would also allow Boyer to do community work. "You've offended against your community."
Judge Saunders sentenced Boyer to seven months' home detention, on the condition he receive grief management and anger management counselling.
He also sentenced Boyer to 150 hours' community work, and ordered him to pay $750 of emotional harm reparation to the victim.
- Westport News