Key Points:

Five young men who attacked a group of tourists in central Christchurch have received a total of 8-1/2 years of prison time, eight months of community detention, and 550 hours of community work.

Three went to jail, and the other two will serve their community detention sentences at home, and their spare time on a work gang.

No emotional harm reparations were ordered to be paid to the tourists who were stabbed, punched, kicked and stomped in an incident near the corner of Cashel and High Streets about 1am on April 12.

All of the English and Danish tourists headed away overseas after the ugly attack which was mostly caught on video on one of the central city's crime cameras.

But all but one of them provided victim impact reports for Judge Graeme Noble's crown sentencing session in the Christchurch District Court today.

They described continuing pain from rib injuries, no feeling in the front teeth from nerve damage, a broken knuckle, broken cheekbone, headaches and neck problems.

One of them, an English tourist, was stabbed three times including a wound in the chest that caused a collapsed lung. Another one received a superficial stab wound in the chest but his head was kicked and stomped while he was on the ground.

It seemed almost everyone involved in the incident was drunk, according to comments from the judge and the five defence counsel who spoke at today's sentencing.

The group of attackers had been drinking for up to five hours before heading into the city where they happened to meet the group of tourists, who were being loud. An exchange of comments quickly escalated.

Lawyers reported that the victims had received treatment and were recovering, but Judge Noble said the outcome could easily have been different.

"Often this is the way in which murders occur," he said.

In every case, the judge commented that the young men had good backgrounds and good family support. He told one of them: "This raises the question of what on earth you were doing there that night with that lot of people."

Four of the men did not know that their friend had a knife, and had used it during the minute-long attack.

Karl Jaison Stowers, 27, was named as the principal offender after he admitted two charges of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

He had taken a pocket knife into the city and used it to stab two victims. He was described as a long term substance abuser, a heavy drinker and user of cannabis. He was jailed for 4-1/2 years.

Michael Harrison Cooper, a 22-year-old roofer, had cowardly kicked and stomped one of the men, when he was on the ground and had probably already been stabbed, said the judge. He had admitted charges of assault, assault with intent to injure, and intentionally injuring.

"Your parents are really struggling to come to terms with what you did on this occasion," Judge Noble told him, as he jailed him for two years three months.

James Harry Ramon Stowers, a 22-year-old Papanui man, had previous convictions and an earlier prison term on his record. Judge Noble said he drank too much and seemed to lack any insight into what he had done. He admitted an assault, and an assault with intent to injure. Like his brother, he was sent to jail, but his term was set at one year nine months.

Nikolas Joseph Scanlan-Shaw, 22, from Redwood, had taken a lesser role but had contributed to the injuries suffered by the victim who was stabbed three times by Karl Stowers. He delivered a few punches. He was sentenced to five months' home detention, and 350 hours of community work on charges of assault and assault with intent to injure.

Clinton Edward Shuker, a 22-year-old mechanic, had delivered a kick to one tourist's chest and admitted a charge of assault with intent to injure. He will do three months' community detention at home, and 200 hours of community work.

Judge Noble said he regarded the fact that tourists were the victims as a neutral factor, but he added: "There is a general expectation that when one is a visitor, one will be treated with courtesy and respect."