Mental issues keep knifeman out of jail

By Gerald Ford -
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FEARFUL: The victim was in fear for his life.PHOTO/THINKSTOCK
FEARFUL: The victim was in fear for his life.PHOTO/THINKSTOCK

An intoxicated and schizophrenic Masterton man who stabbed his cousin in the hand with a knife has been spared prison because his illness "reduced the blame", a court heard.

Vincent Jacob Rowe, 31, was sentenced to three-and-a-half months' home detention on Thursday after pleading guilty to a charge of wounding with reckless disregard for safety.

Rowe's lawyer, Ian Hard, said the event was characterised by Rowe's schizophrenia, although a psychologist's report found him fit to plead.

"The waters were muddied by the fact he was intoxicated," Mr Hard said.

"Had he not been intoxicated there might have been a different result in terms of fitness to plead."

Mr Hard noted that the victim had said he wouldn't mind if the charge were withdrawn, and said Rowe "needs help rather than punishment".

Judge Barbara Morris said the charge meant Rowe "knew there was a risk of injury and just carried on regardless".

Rowe had been in a house with the victim and had been drinking.

He had become involved in an argument with the victim, who said he wanted to go home.

The victim had left, Judge Morris said, and Rowe "armed [him]self with a knife and followed in an intoxicated state".

"You pushed him to the ground on two occasions.

"At that point he noticed a large and probably quite gruesome wound on his hand. The wound was such that it required reconstructive surgery and a cast."

Rowe had threatened to stab the victim and to slit his throat. The victim showed Rowe his hand and pleaded with him to stop.

"You, Mr Rowe, when you saw the wound, when you saw what you had done, wrapped the hand in a T-shirt," Judge Morris said.

Rowe had, however, refused to call an ambulance when asked, and had then driven the victim to another house and told him to wait in the car.

The victim "escaped, and went to a neighbour, who arranged for an ambulance to be called".

When questioned by police, Rowe said he had been enraged at his cousin and had the knife because he wanted to hurt him, but could not remember causing the injury.

Judge Morris said the victim had been in fear of his life, and was fortunate not to lose the use of his fingers, but the hand had fully recovered.

She said Rowe's schizophrenia "reduces the blameworthiness of what you did because of the clouding of the thoughts that you have". The illness would also "increase the suffering of prison for you".

Rowe was also helped by his guilty plea and the fact he is now getting medical help and had stopped drinking, she said.

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