AC/DC rocker Phil Rudd's son was discharged without conviction on two counts of assault yesterday - despite police concerns he tried to use his father's famous name to get off the charges.
Jack Felix Witschke, 23, of Whakamarama, appeared before Judge Peter Rollo in the Tauranga District Court on two charges of common assault after an incident at the Cornerstone Tavern on August 30.
Witschke had pleaded guilty to the charges at an appearance on September 30. The charges related to assaults on two men.
He had been out with family members and grossly intoxicated when he got into a confrontation with a man after they bumped into each other on the dance floor, Judge Rollo said.
Witschke threw a punch before he was evicted from the pub by security staff. The other man involved left with friends via another door.
"You followed that group in an aggressive way," Judge Rollo said. "This was brought to police attention from a CCTV monitor in Tauranga city. You approached the first complainant and punched him in the face."
A female was pushed over when she tried to intervene. Witschke punched another male in the face several times, Judge Rollo said. One victim had clothing ripped. The two men held Witschke until police arrived.
Police prosecutor David Pawson opposed Witschke's application for a discharge without conviction, saying a number of issues concerned him, particularly that an affidavit from Witschke gave the impression the accused was using his father's famous name to get off. Witschke's attitude on arrest, saying officers "disrespected me", backed this up, he said.
"That rings with the flavour, 'you don't know who my dad is'."
Mr Pawson was also sceptical of Witschke's enrolment at the Australian Institute of Personal Trainers, which was done in October, after his first court appearance. "I don't know how genuine that is," he said.
The court had to be careful that discharges without conviction were not seen as special treatment for the privileged.
Mr Pawson said a person with a criminal conviction could still travel, although some countries were stricter than others.
Judge Rollo said Witschke's only previous conviction had involved a driving offence. He had no record of violence.
"You have done everything that could be expected of you to put this right. You have written a thoughtful letter of apology to the two young men, it's insightful and recognises what you did was inappropriate."
Witschke had undertaken 20 hours' voluntary community service at a surf lifesaving club and sought out an alcohol and drug assessment.
Judge Rollo outlined Witschke's qualification as a skydiving instructor and his interest in basejumping.
"You have a famous, perhaps infamous, father who as a musician will travel extensively and you accompany him from time to time.
"The focus of your application [for discharge without conviction] is the effects of conviction for you would be to hinder, first, your ability to undertake your skydiving and basejumping career and leisure pursuits overseas. Secondly, to accompany your father on overseas trips from time to time. Thirdly, the effect it might have on your training as a personal trainer."
Judge Rollo said Witschke had a positive future and a conviction would harm his aspirations. A conviction would narrowly outweigh the scale of the offending.
Witschke was ordered to pay one of the victims $120 for his ripped shirt, and each victim was awarded $500 for emotional harm. Witschke also had to pay $130 in court costs.
The court appearance follows a week after Phil Rudd's chaotic appearance at the same court on a charge of threatening to kill another man, plus posssession of cannabis and possession of methamphetamine,after police raised his Harbour Drive home on November 6.