An award-winning Auckland architect will not be convicted after his wife broke her arm when he pulled her from a wheelchair.
Aaron Scott Paterson, 43, appeared in Auckland District Court today on a charge of assault but he escaped any black mark against his name partly because of the "extraordinary and very sad" circumstances of the case.
Paterson's wife was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2010 and in an online blog has documented her battle with the autoimmune disorder, which targets the central-nervous system and has no known cure.
On March 10, the defendant yanked her, causing her to fall from her wheelchair and break her arm.
"He held her by her arm and pulled her forward and she fell out of her wheelchair," Judge Grant Fraser said.
"We're not talking about him striking her or an attack to the head, we're talking about an action in frustration which might almost be accidental.
"I imagine if Mr Paterson could turn the clock back he'd do things completely differently."
The judge said the consequences of Paterson's actions were serious but the incredible stress he was under with his wife's health concerns, all while raising two young sons, provided an explanation to what occurred.
He said a forensic psychologist's report before the court made for "harrowing" reading.
"If the circumstances in that report don't move anyone, they're pretty hard-hearted," Judge Fraser said.
The defendant said he was determined to support his family, which now relied completely on his work.
"We've been through hell together and we love each other very much," he said.
Paterson's professional reputation took a massive boost in 2013 when he and his childhood friend Dominic Glamuzina won two of the four award-winning projects in the Housing category of the 2013 New Zealand Architecture Awards.
His lawyer Robert Collis said Paterson's standing in the architectural community would receive a severe blow if he was convicted and it would also restrict his chance to travel for work.
The defendant was in the process of applying for a teaching role at Auckland University and Mr Collis said he had been advised a conviction might ruin his chances of getting the job.
The court also heard of Paterson's contributions to architecture journals for which he would occasionally travel to Australia to conduct interviews.
Judge Fraser was satisfied the consequences of a convictions would have a disproportionate impact on the defendant.
Police told the court Paterson had no previous convictions and the judge ruled it would be unfair to mark his clean criminal record.
The man was the second high-profile architect in Auckland District Court in two days after Andrew Patterson appeared yesterday, pleading guilty to careless driving causing injury.
The 55-year-old pinned cyclist Peter Redmond under his Porsche SUV on a Herne Bay street in May.
He will be sentenced next month.