What Arthur Duncan Mathieson wanted was gravy on his meal.

He got it on the side, so he punched the waitress who served him, twice.

The disagreement resulted in the 58-year-old standing in the dock at the Dunedin District Court yesterday - several metres from where the crime was committed, at the Law Courts Hotel.

The court heard Mathieson had been dining at the restaurant and was ''unhappy'' with his meal when it arrived. Photo / Peter McIntosh
The court heard Mathieson had been dining at the restaurant and was ''unhappy'' with his meal when it arrived. Photo / Peter McIntosh

Mathieson pleaded guilty to assaulting a female over the October 4 incident and his lawyer Pete Tuala requested name suppression ''on the grounds [publication] would cause him undue stress''.

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Judge Michael Turner declined the application, as it did not meet the threshold of extreme hardship, which was required by law.

The court heard Mathieson had been dining at the restaurant and was ''unhappy'' with his meal when it arrived.

He argued with the waitress and swore at her.

She offered to refund Mathieson and asked him to leave.

He punched her once in the chest and once in the back.

''This was an unprovoked assault,'' Judge Turner said.

''You're a large man, a powerful man.''

While the police summary of facts outlined the disagreement over the meal, Mr Tuala had to explain the specifics of his client's condimental gripe.

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''He wanted gravy on top of his food but the waitress had it on the side,'' he said.

The ensuing verbal spat had stressed his client.

''None of that excuses your behaviour,'' the judge said.

The victim got over the soreness to her chest within a couple of days but the psychological effects had been ongoing.

Judge Turner said the woman had enjoyed her job and aspired to become restaurant manager.

The assault had left her scared and she quit work as a result.

''Her ability to trust others was seriously diminished,'' the judge said.

''Her confidence has been shaken.''

The attack could have warranted a short prison term, Judge Turner said, but Mathieson was instead sentenced to 100 hours' community work and ordered to pay the victim $500.