A Kerikeri man has been jailed for more than 16 months for a "coward's punch" that has left his victim unable to support his young family more than a year later.

Jaydin Robert Locke, 27, was sentenced in the Kaikohe District Court today on a charge of injuring with reckless disregard, for an incident at the Marley NZ All Stars concert at Kainui Rd Winery in February 2017.

He pleaded guilty earlier this year after the charge was reduced from the more serious wounding with reckless disregard.

Read more: Coward-punch victim: Brutal blow 'pretty much ruined my life'

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The court heard how a scuffle broke out between Locke's partner and a former girlfriend in which one of the women was pushed to the ground. Derek Tanner, who was standing nearby, helped the woman back on her feet.

About 25 minutes later Locke strode up behind Tanner and punched him in the head without warning. Tanner was knocked unconscious and fell heavily to the ground.

While Locke disappeared in to the crowd other concert-goers, including Northland MP Matt King, applied first aid.

Tanner suffered a fractured eye socket, a fractured skull and a brain bleed. A chef at a Paihia restaurant, he has been unable to return to work, suffers severe headaches, and could still lose sight in one eye.

Defence lawyer Doug Blaikie said the punch was not pre-meditated but happened in the heat of the moment. His client had since lost his partner, his savings and a well-paying job.

He was prepared to pay reparation but that would be possible only if he wasn't jailed.

He was already paying reparation at $100 a week for crashing into a fire engine in Kerikeri in 2011, for which he still owed $13,500.

Blaikie called for a sentence of intensive supervision and community work.

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Derek Tanner's eye socket was smashed to pieces in the ambush attack and his eyesight threatened. Even after surgery, he faces a heightened risk of losing sight as he ages. Photo / Supplied
Derek Tanner's eye socket was smashed to pieces in the ambush attack and his eyesight threatened. Even after surgery, he faces a heightened risk of losing sight as he ages. Photo / Supplied

Police prosecutor Russell Price, however, said nothing less than jail would do.

''This was a coward's punch to a victim who had done nothing to provoke it ... He didn't see it coming, he was hit on the blind side and went down like the proverbial sack of spuds.''

The ongoing effects were not just physical, Price said. He had been gainfully employed all his life but now he was unable to provide for his young family.

''That weighs heavily on Mr Tanner,'' he said.

With no suitable address for home detention, Judge Greg Davis said only jail would be enough to send a message that such behaviour would not be tolerated.

He arrived at an end sentence of 16 1/2 months after reducing the initial 26 months for Locke's guilty plea and time already spent behind bars.

King, who saw the "violent, vicious and bad" assault and had been due to testify the day Locke changed his plea, welcomed the sentence.

"We've got a result and the man is going to be spending some time behind bars where he can think about his actions ... Hopefully he might realise while he's sitting in his cell how much damage he did to a decent and respectable man.

"He caused injuries that will affect him for the rest of his life,'' King said.