Irate over a text message, Peter John Orchard deliberately tried to hurt his partner by smashing a ute into three street poles before trying to kill himself.

The 38-year-old Northlander was a good family man and worker until a serious workplace injury in 2013 resulted in significant behavioural change and a diagnosis for post traumatic stress disorder.

By using your car as a weapon and unbuckling your partner's seat belt, you employed violence of a nature comparable to other cases of extreme violence

Orchard was sentenced in the High Court at Whangarei yesterday to six years and nine months in prison after earlier pleading guilty to five charges.

These included causing grievous bodily harm with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, dangerous driving, breaching a protection order, and two of common assault. The Crown withdrew a charge of attempted murder at sentencing.


Justice Mathew Downs said Orchard was driving his partner and three children to Kerikeri on January 6 when he became upset about a text message she received.

She was sitting in the front passenger seat and had a protection order against him at the time. The exact contents of the text message was not known but it concerned allegations about him.

Justice Downs said Orchard became very upset and said he had nothing to lose and made other remarks.

Orchard then deliberately drove off the road into several road signs and then at three lamp posts.

Before hitting the first of the three, he unclipped his partner's seat belt and ensured the line of lamp posts were on her side of the vehicle.

Orchard ran down the first two lamp posts, and the third caused the car to flip and rest on the passenger side. His partner had to be cut free by Kerikeri firefighters.

Read more: Northland man deliberately crashed ute with passengers into street lights

She had bruises all over her body and spent three days in hospital. Her children were unhurt but traumatised.


''Your partner was vulnerable as there was nothing she could do. It is remarkable she did not sustain more serious injury or worse," Justice Downs said.

He said cases of extreme violence typically involved a knife or a gun or the direct application of force to the victim.

"However, by using your car as a weapon and unbuckling your partner's seat belt, you employed violence of a nature comparable to other cases of extreme violence. It would be strange if your offending was not analysed this way."

Although he was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and exhibited symptoms of anxiety and depression after the workplace injury, Justice Downs said Orchard did not suffer from a mental illness or a mental disorder.

Orchard was also disqualified from driving for six months.

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