Broadcaster Tony Veitch has escaped a jail term after pleading guilty to reckless disregard causing injury over an assault on his former partner.

Outside Auckland District Court, the former TVNZ and Radio Sport host said the past year had been a "hideous time for his family".

He said his assault on Kristin Dunne-Powell had been out of character and that he had misguidedly believed they parted on good terms.

Veitch earlier today admitted kicking Ms Dunne-Powell while she was on the ground, breaking her back.


Key points:

* Veitch admits one charge, six others dropped
* Sentenced to community service and fined
* Former partner says still traumatised
* Veitch says past year 'hideous'
* Veitch vows legal action against media
* Radio Sport will begin negotiations with Veitch

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Ms Dunne-Powell's spine was fractured in two places and she temporarily had to use a wheel-chair and crutches.

Six other charges of assault over allegations Veitch beat up Ms Dunne-Powell during their 2002-2006 relationship were today dropped.

Judge Jan Doogue sentenced Veitch to nine months supervision and 300 hours of community service and imposed a $10,000 fine. Veitch's probation officer will decide whether an anger management course is necessary.

The reckless disregard causing injury charge he admitted carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment.

The night of the assault

Ms Dunne-Powell read out a victim impact statement to the court this morning.

She said she had suffered physical and psychological harm for which she was still undergoing counselling.

The court heard that Veitch injured Ms Dunne-Powell when she went to visit him on January 29, 2006.

Crown prosecutor John Dickson said before the argument, Ms Dunne-Powell had read a text on Veitch's cell phone.

But he said that provoked the argument but not the assault.

"Nothing she did justified what he did which was kick her in the back when she was on the ground," Mr Dickson said.

Stuart Grieve, QC, said the assault had occurred "in a context with elements of provocation".

He cited notes from a counselling session that the two attended two days after the assault took place.

Mr Grieve said Ms Dunne-Powell had told the counsellor that she had gone through Veitch's cell phone while he was out of the room.

He said Ms Dunne-Powell told the counsellor that she had issues of trust.

They had a heated argument after which he kicked her in the back while she lay on the floor.

Veitch then crouched down on the floor next to her and asked if she was OK and she said that she wasn't.

During the night Ms Dunne-Powell woke up in considerable pain. The two then went to hospital where it was found that as a result of the assault she had a traumatic haematoma and one or two fractures of the spine.

The court was full with some members of the public having to stand and about 24 journalists filling the jury box. Veitch was supported by his wife Zoe Halford.

Veitch speaks to media

He told media that he had undertaken counselling after the assault which he described as out of character.

"That is not me and it will never be me again. I wish I had handled things differently that night," Veitch said.

He said he told his family, wife and later his employers at TVNZ and Radio Sport about what he had done and paid the $150,000 to Kristin Dunne-Powell to ensure his wedding went ahead.

"What still confounds me, and even today it still confounds me, is my misguided belief that Kristin and I actually parted on good terms," Veitch said.

He said he remained in contact with Ms Donne-Powell for 13 months after the relationship ended.

He said he was looking forward to working with charities as part of his sentence.

Veitch said he would be taking legal action against some media organisations who he said had run stories without sources.

He declined to answer any questions from the media.

One of his former employers, Bill Francis, The Radio Network's general manager of talk, said the company will begin discussions with the former Radio Sport presenter about future employment.

Sentencing decision

Judge Doogue said she took into account Veitch's lack of premeditation in attacking Ms Dunne-Powell and his remorse when sentencing him.

The fact that Veitch did not intend to cause the injury and it was "a singular act of short duration", were also mitigating factors.

However, she stressed "it was an act of violence on an innocent party".

Referring to submissions from Stuart Grieve QC where he told the court that Veitch was curled up on a bed with his hands clamped over his ears during an argument between the couple, Judge Doogue said: "Nothing she did justified what you did that night."

She said: "Aggravating factors were the vulnerability of Ms Dunne-Powell at the time of the attack and the fact that she was kicked in a vulnerable part of her body and the long lasting effect on her psychological quality of life."

In October 2007, Ms Dunne-Powell's solicitors wrote to Veitch asking for money to cover medical expenses of over $100,000 and a donation of $5000 to the domestic violence charity, Preventing Violence in the Home.

This request led to a $150,000 payment which included a confidentiality clause. Veitch had made two earlier payments of $2000 and $10,000 to Ms Dunne Powell.

Judge Doogue said these were "substantial payments made for genuine reasons related to her wellbeing".

She told Veitch that despite the ongoing media and public interest: "You are the architect of your own misfortune."

Those living in the public eye suffer when they fall from grace, she said.

Hearing brought forward

Veitch was to appear for a depositions hearing at the court on Monday.

But an email sent from the court yesterday evening said the case had been "brought on" and Veitch would appear today.

It is understood Veitch's appearance followed a plea-bargaining process.

Outside court today, Veitch said he had been looking forward to his "day in court" but that would have been up to two years away.

The original seven charges laid against Veitch related to alleged assaults against Ms Dunne-Powell at Auckland and Mangawhai, north of Auckland, between 2003 and 2006.

After his first court appearance in August last year, Veitch vowed to defend the charges.

"I'm shocked and saddened that it's got this far in terms of all the allegations and charges ... I'm determined more than ever to fight to clear my name," he said.

ORIGINAL CHARGES

Injuring with reckless disregard:

January 29, 2006.

Male assaults female:

December 18, 2006, at Auckland.

Dropped

Male assaults female:

November 5, 2005, at Auckland.

Dropped

Male assaults female:

July 8, 2005, at Auckland.

Dropped

Male assaults female:

June 3-4, 2005, at Rotorua.

Dropped

Male assaults female:

Between April 14, 2003, and April 9, 2005, at Mangawhai.

Dropped

Male assaults female:

Between March 15, 2002, and April 19, 2003, at Auckland.

Dropped

- With NEWSTALK ZB