A Whanganui man attacked an 80-year-old after becoming enraged by a traffic incident.

Ian Dean Peeti was driving along State Highway 3 when his vehicle was involved in an incident with another and it made him so mad he began tailing it.

Peeti, 53, appeared in Whanganui District Court for sentencing on Wednesday.

Judge Christopher Field explained what happened.

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"You became enraged at what had occurred, you followed the victim into the carpark of a local business, parked alongside him, approached him and opened the door.

"You punched him in the right side of the face using a closed fist and again to the left side of his face and punched at him a third time, but missed him."

Peeti also attempted to pull the man from his truck, but failed to do so.

As a result of the attack, the 80-year-old victim required medical attention, suffering a swollen and bruised neck, as well as a bruised and cut eye.

Defence counsel Roger Crowley said his client had "just lost his cool".

"He feels he's let himself down, he's let his family down and that's a fair assessment of where he is," Crowley said.

"The consequences of that brain explosion were severe, significant, undeserved and unnecessary."

He pleaded guilty to a charge of injuring with intent to injure with reckless disregard.

Judge Field sentenced him to three months' community detention and 100 hours' community work.

He also ordered that Peeti pay $500 emotional harm reparation.