Kerre McIvor
Kerre McIvor is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Kerre McIvor: Staying in the headlines

Nikolas Delegat has some work to do before he returns to his yacht racing ambitions. Photo / Otago Daily Times
Nikolas Delegat has some work to do before he returns to his yacht racing ambitions. Photo / Otago Daily Times

As a parent, I would like to think if my child rang me from a police cell that I could summon the fortitude to let my child suffer the consequence of his actions.

No parent wants to know their 19-year-old child could pummel a woman to unconsciousness. Far less, keep punching her long after she no longer posed a threat. It's sickening.

And yet, what do you do? Your child rings and they're in trouble. Do you hang them out to dry? Disown them? Of course you don't.

In March last year, a friend of Delegat's made a derogatory remark about Delegat's girlfriend.

That was the catalyst for a violent alcohol-fuelled rampage ending in a broken pub window, an assault on a campus security guard and Delegat punching a policewoman, continuing as she lay on the ground unconscious.

Delegat was charged with aggravated assault, assault, wilful damage and resisting arrest.

And that's when the real fight began. A high-powered lawyer was engaged. He fought for name suppression and a discharge without conviction.

For more than six months, Mark Ryan argued through the Auckland District Court, the High Court and ultimately the Court of Appeal that publication of Nikolas Delegat's name would cause undue hardship and prejudice a fair trial.

Thankfully the court was having none of that. It didn't help the poor little rich kid in the court of public opinion when a reason for asking for a discharge without conviction was revealed. A conviction would interfere with Delegat's yacht racing in the US.

Had he appeared in the dock and pleaded guilty like any other case, there would have been 24 hours of bad press, a lot of head shaking and judgment and mutterings about money not being able to buy class and that would have been it.

Instead, by writhing and wriggling and contorting himself in every legal manner possible to avoid the consequences of his actions, Delegat has ensured he stayed in the headlines for the better part of a week and any google search of his name will bring up his crimes in perpetuity.

To be fair, the flames of white hot anger over what has been perceived as a lenient sentence were fanned by Police Association president Greg O'Connor, who claimed Delegat would have been chucked in the slammer were he a poor brown boy from South Dunedin.

Although it's true official figures show Pakeha are more likely to be let off with a warning than Maori or Polynesians, in Delegat's case the judge applied a sentence commensurate with other similar cases.

Delegat was given 300 hours community work, after pleading guilty to a lesser charge of assaulting a police officer with intent to obstruct her in the execution of her duty, as well as the two other outstanding charges.

Although the sentence seems risibly light to most of us, other people who assault police officers receive similar sentences.

A Whanganui woman was sentenced to 120 hours community work in 2014 for attacking a police officer arresting her son, and serial offender Daniel McNally received five months community detention for assaulting two police officers, one of them female.

According to Ryan, his client is very sorry and wants to work with police and local authorities to address, I quote, "the rather out-of-control drinking culture" at Otago University.

Oh please! Blame the bottle? I don't think so. And somewhat ironic given the family fortune is built on booze.

Many drink far too much on occasion. But few people become feral, ugly, violent thugs as the result of a few drinks.

Everybody deserves a second chance and you would hate to think that a future man was defined by his immature 19-year-old self.

But Nikolas Delegat has a great deal of work to do on himself before he gets back to yacht racing in Newport.

• Kerre McIvor is on NewstalkZB, weekdays, noon-4pm

- Herald on Sunday

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