TV star and game park owner Craig Busch was this morning convicted on two charges of assaulting his former partner after he came home to find her in bed with another couple.
Busch, known to viewers as the Lion Man, admitted the charges yesterday as he was about to stand trial in the Whangarei District Court on a total of five assault charges, two charges of threatening to kill and one of unlawful sexual connection.
The other charges were subsequently dropped after the Crown offered no evidence.
The assault charges were laid after Busch came home late on the evening of January 15 2005 to find his partner in bed with two other people.
In the ensuing struggle, which saw Busch attempt to pull his partner from the bed, the victim suffered a number of injuries that have resulted in ongoing medical treatment and which have left her unable to work.
The court heard today that his former partner had gone to the couple for comfort after being told to leave her home by Busch.
He walked in and grabbed his partner by the hair, though the couple tried to calm him and explain things weren't as they seemed, the court was told.
The injuries included swelling and bruising to her torso and fractures to the lumbar and rib fractures.
A second charge of assault was laid after Busch, the following morning, attempted to manhandle the victim into her car and drive her off the property.
Busch has a previous conviction from 1991 for assaulting a female, a charge for which he received what was then periodic detention.
Crown Prosecutor Peter McGee today rejected a submission by Busch's lawyer John Haigh QC that Busch be convicted and discharged.
Busch should not be able to use his celebrity status to avoid justice, Mr McGee said.
"The message must not only go to this man, but to all others... if you assault a woman in these circumstances then the consequences will be severe."
However, Judge Michael Lance agreed with Mr Haigh that Busch's assaults were a "human and inevitable" reaction to seeing his partner in bed with other people.
Busch should however have been aware of the possible consequences of his actions, Judge Lance said.
He stopped short of imposing any penalty on Busch, saying the convictions alone were punishment enough.
He ordered Busch to pay $8000 reparation within 14 days to his former partner.
- with NZPA