Police have filed an appeal against a decision by a South Island judge to discharge a man without conviction after he was charged with violently assaulting his wife.

The man had also been charged with assaulting one of his children and a male friend.

The incident came after the 58-year-old - who has name suppression - saw a text message between his wife and his mate, declaring their love for each other.

The court heard that after spying the text, the man assaulted the friend and a struggle ensued.


In December the 58-year-old was discharged without conviction in the Queenstown District Court.

Judge John Brandts-Giesen said the incident was a "nasty assault" but had to be seen in context.

"Really, this is a situation that does your wife no credit and does the [male] no credit,"
Judge Brandts-Giesen told the man.

"There would be many people who would have done exactly what you did, even though it may be against the law to do so.

"I consider that the consequences of a conviction are out of all proportion to what happened on this occasion."

After inquiries from the Herald police confirmed they were reviewing the decision.

They then referred the matter to Crown Law, seeking consent to file an appeal.

Crown Law today confirmed that consent had been given to appeal.


"Upon confirmation from Crown Law that the Deputy Solicitor-General consented to an appeal of the decision, the Police Prosecution Service instructed the Southland Crown Solicitor to file a notice of appeal," a police spokesperson said today.

Police could not comment further on the matter.

New Zealand has the worst rate of family violence in the developed world, and in recent years the police have ramped up efforts to reduce and prevent incidents - and to raise awareness and encourage victims to report incidents.

After the decision was first made public barrister and spokeswoman for the Auckland Coalition for the Safety of Women and Children Catriona MacLennan blasted Judge Brandts-Giesen.

"His reported comments and the sentence imposed display a complete lack of understanding of domestic violence," she said.

"He victim blames and minimises assaults on three people."

Then Chief District Court Judge Jan-Marie Doogue weighed in.

It is extremely rare for Judge Doogue - or any other judge - to comment on the actions of their peers.

Judges are independent and do not - ever - have to justify or explain their decisions.

"I cannot comment on the case at this stage because it may be the subject of appeal," Judge Doogue told the Herald.

"But to the extent that the Judge may have expressed himself inappropriately in any event, I do not seek to defend his remarks.

"And I am sure on further reflection neither would he."