Nikolas Delegat's fight for anonymity

The criminal charges faced by Nikolas James Posa Delegat, the son of a wine magnate rich-lister, have attracted much attention since they first came to light following a late-night attack on a Dunedin female police officer. Otago Daily Times reporter TIMOTHY BROWN has followed the case since the attack. He reports.
Nikolas Delegat in Dunedin District Court yesterday. Photo / Otago Daily Times
Nikolas Delegat in Dunedin District Court yesterday. Photo / Otago Daily Times

Nikolas James Posa Delegat's attempts at anonymity and keeping a clean criminal record have now spanned four courts and more than 1000km as the case was transferred from Dunedin to Auckland and back again.

And Judge Kevin Phillips' decision to convict Delegat and sentence him to 300 hours community work may not mark the final chapter of the case with his lawyer, Mark Ryan, indicating the possibility of appeal.

Delegat came to the court's attention after a late-night assault on Dunedin Constable Alana Kane on March 26 last year. He knocked her unconscious with a closed fist to the head and threw at least three more subsequent blows.

During the row, which occurred due to a friend's derogatory remark about his then girlfriend, Delegat also attacked a Campus Watch staff member, throwing punches at the man's face causing him to slip. Delegat then kneed the grounded man in the face.

Delegat also punched a hole in a security window of student haunt Starters Bar and lashed out at arresting police officers, attempting to headbutt and kicking out at them.

Kane was taken to Dunedin Hospital, where she required 15 hours of treatment.

Delegat was taken to Dunedin Central police station, where he was verbally abusive to officers and refused to answer questions.

He was charged with the aggravated assault of Kane - a charge carrying a maximum sentence of seven years' imprisonment, the assault of Campus Watch staff member David Ogilvie, wilful damage of Starters Bar's window and resisting arrest.

Five days later he appeared at Dunedin District Court.

Jim Delegat, managing director of Delegat's Wine Estate. Photo / Greg Bowker
Jim Delegat, managing director of Delegat's Wine Estate. Photo / Greg Bowker

At this point, Delegat's background as the son of Jakov "Jim" Delegat, one-half of the brother-sister duo in charge of the almost half-a-billion-dollar Delegat wine empire, remained unknown.

The matter was transferred to Auckland District Court, where interim name suppression was granted.

Delegat's fight for name suppression lasted six months as he argued through Auckland District Court and, subsequently, the High Court and Court of Appeal, that publication of his name would be prejudicial to a fair trial and cause personal hardship.

The judgment of the Court of Appeal remained suppressed until yesterday, when parts of it were allowed to be published following the conclusion of criminal proceedings against Delegat.

However, details of his reasons for appeal remain under permanent suppression.

At the same time as Delegat was fighting for name suppression, he was also preparing for trial on his criminal proceedings, pleading not guilty to the charges of aggravated assault, assault and wilful damage.

He entered those pleas in August last year, almost five months after the events which led to his arrest.

His trial was to take place a further nine months later.

However, that date passed without Delegat taking the stand and a month later, in June this year, he pleaded guilty to an amended charge of assaulting a police officer with intent to obstruct her in the execution of her duty - carrying a maximum sentence of three years' imprisonment, as well as the two other outstanding charges.

Crown prosecutor Robin Bates conceded at yesterday's sentencing that Delegat was entitled to a discount for an early guilty plea to the new charge - despite the plea coming almost 15 months after the offending.

Delegat appealed for a discharge without conviction and was willing to undertake community work to address the "rather out of control drinking culture" at the University of Otago. Photo / File
Delegat appealed for a discharge without conviction and was willing to undertake community work to address the "rather out of control drinking culture" at the University of Otago. Photo / File

Some details of Kane's victim impact statement, read by sentencing Judge Phillips, provided an insight into her feelings.

"She considers the defendant as showing no remorse," he said, a remark which drew a shake of the head from Delegat.

"It is very recently when he pleaded guilty that there was an approach for a restorative justice conference," Judge Phillips read.

Kane felt "he had 18 months to do something about it".

Delegat's affidavit in support of a discharge without conviction also "minimises a very serious assault", Judge Phillips said.

The hearing was adjourned at one point as Judge Phillips said the affidavit was in contrast to the charge Delegat pleaded guilty to.

"Either your client accepts that when he struck the blow, that he was striking a police officer or he doesn't," he told Ryan.

"If he doesn't then we will have a disputed facts hearing to find the facts."

After 20 minutes, the matter was recalled and Ryan said Delegat accepted the summary of facts, although he could not "independently recall" assaulting a police officer.

In appealing for a discharge without conviction, Ryan said Delegat was willing to undertake community work in conjunction with police and local authorities to address the "rather out of control drinking culture" at the University of Otago.

"Mr Delegat wants to give something back to the police and to the community," he said.

"He's wanting to help and mentor other young people who have problems with alcohol."

Judge Phillips obliged Delegat's hopes of giving back by sentencing him to community work, but rejected his proposition of discharge without conviction.

- Otago Daily Times

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 03 Dec 2016 20:52:11 Processing Time: 427ms