A Dunedin man who hit his children and stepdaughter with his hands and a wooden spoon over an eight-year period also threatened to shoot a pet horse in front of them, a court has heard.

A 47-year-old man appeared in the Dunedin District Court yesterday.

He faced nine charges, including assault, assault with a weapon and unlawful possession of a firearm, from incidents between 2010 and 2018.

He was granted permanent name suppression, Judge Michael Crosbie saying it was to protect the identities of the four victims.


Lawyer Anne Stevens QC said it was a "large fall from grace" for the man, who had disciplined his daughter, stepdaughter and two sons in a fashion similar to the way he was disciplined when he was growing up.

Judge Crosbie said the offending was in the context of an "acrimonious" relationship.

"You often became angry, and resorted to physical violence."

He assaulted his stepdaughter, causing her to fall down some steps on one occasion, and his own children, including hitting them with his hands and with a wooden spoon.

The most frequent abuse was directed against his eldest son, who was aged between 1 and 9 years old at the time.

During one beating, the boy was crying in pain and pleading for his father to stop hitting him, but the man continued, Judge Crosbie said.

Between 2016 and 2017 his stepdaughter, then aged about 13, was tending to horses with one of his sons when he pointed a rifle in the direction of the animal.

"[You said] you would sort this out and shoot the horse right now," Judge Crosbie said.


The incident left the girl frightened and stressed, and also had an effect on the boy.

Judge Crosbie accepted the man had grown up in a family where physical discipline was the norm.

However, New Zealand outlawed smacking over a decade ago, and the number of victims and the duration of the offending was unusual.

There were aspects of the man's behaviour which could not be described as corrective.

"They simply present as anger," Judge Crosbie said.

The self-employed man had received positive character references from people in the community and within his wider family.


Judge Crosbie gave him credit for his guilty pleas, and sentenced him to 100 hours' community work with curfew, and four months' community detention, and ordered him to complete any programmes as directed.

If you're in danger NOW:

• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours of friends to ring for you.
• Run outside and head for where there are other people.
• Scream for help so that your neighbours can hear you.
• Take the children with you.
• Don't stop to get anything else.
• If you are being abused, remember it's not your fault. Violence is never okay.

Where to go for help or more information:

• Women's Refuge: Free national crisis line operates 24/7 - 0800 REFUGE or 0800 733 843 www.womensrefuge.org.nz
• Shine, free national helpline 9am- 11pm every day - 0508 744 633 www.2shine.org.nz
• It's Not Ok: Information line 0800 456 450 www.areyouok.org.nz
• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and Middle Eastern women and their children. Crisis line 24/7 0800 742 584
• Ministry of Justice: www.justice.govt.nz/family-justice/domestic-violence
• National Network of Stopping Violence: www.nnsvs.org.nz
• White Ribbon: Aiming to eliminate men's violence towards women, focusing this year on sexual violence and the issue of consent. www.whiteribbon.org.nz

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