The man who pushed a High Court judge over in a fit of road rage incident, causing her to break her wrist in four places has been sentenced to community work.

James Lawrence Beaumont Gilliland was charged with injuring Justice Mary Peters "with reckless disregard for the safety of others" following an altercation in Ponsonby in May.

Justice Peters sits in the High Court at Auckland.

Gilliland, a 29-year-old computer programmer, initially pleaded not guilty to the charge.
He then admitted the crime and sought a discharge without conviction.

James Lawrence Beaumont Gilliland, 29, in the dock during at the Auckland District Court earlier this year. NZ Herald photograph by Brett Phibbs
James Lawrence Beaumont Gilliland, 29, in the dock during at the Auckland District Court earlier this year. NZ Herald photograph by Brett Phibbs

That application was rejected and he appeared in the Auckland District Court for sentencing this morning.

Judge Christopher Field was provided with a brief victim impact statement from Justice Peters, which was not read in court.

Defence lawyer Marie Dyhrberg sought a sentence of community service for Gilliland.

She said Gilliland had undertaken counselling and received some "very good advice" since pleading guilty.

He has also been volunteering for a hospice shop and planned to continue that "worthwhile" community service.

Judge Field said the incident had "far reaching consequences" in all aspects of Justice Peter's life.

"This was a deliberate push," she said in her statement.

She said she "remains upset" at what happened.

Judge Field said he needed to hold Gilliland accountable and denounce his conduct.

"This was at least moderately serious offending," he said.

While there were no mitigating features of the offending, Judge Field said Gilliland was remorseful, his early guilty plea and the fact it was his first time before the courts.

He revealed Gilliland had written a "lengthy" letter by way of apology.

"There is another background issue that needs to be addressed," said Judge Field.

"You yourself were involved in a serious motor vehicle accident ... you were riding your bicycle to work, you became involved in an accident."

Gilliland suffered injuries including broken teeth and internal bleeding - and as a result he became "over sensitised" to what he perceived to be other people's driving faults.

Judge Field sentenced Gilliland to 200 hours of community work.


When Judge June Jelas denied Gilliland a discharge without conviction earlier this month, she revealed the full details of the offending.

On May 9 Gilliland was walking on Ponsonby Rd and was approaching Picton St when the incident occurred.

Justice Peters came around the corner in her car and Gilliland believed she was not going to stop and the pedestrians crossing the street were in danger.

Gilliland kicked Justice Peters' car and she got out to inspect it for damage.

"What the hell was that for?" she asked Gilliland.

They had a "brief" discussion about the incident and as the pair came face-to-face, Gilliland placed both his hands on his victim's shoulders and pushed her over.

Due to the force of the push she fell backwards on to the concrete footpath.

She placed her hand out behind her to break her fall, resulting in her wrist breaking.

Gilliland fled the scene but did not get far.

A member of the public chased him, stopped him and restrained him until police arrived.

Justice Peters' wrist was broken in four places and was placed in a cast for more than four

She spent another month with her wrist in various splints.

Judge Jelas earlier outlined the impact on Justice Peters.

"The victim is right-handed and was unable to attend to everyday personal tasks and activities and was significantly hampered at work," she said.

"Considerable burden resulted for those who support the victim in her work.

"The breaks have now healed but she still suffers a level of discomfort from time to time and is unlikely to regain full strength and mobility in her wrist.

"The offending has affected her greatly."

Judge Jelas said there was absolutely no evidence that Justice Peters had done anything to provoke the attack.

"There is no suggestion ... that, at any stage, the victim drove her vehicle in a manner that breached any road rule," she said.

"Neither is there a suggestion that any pedestrian was in danger or that any pedestrian was concerned by the victim's acts.

"The Court cannot lose sight of the fact that at the time of the offence, the victim
was not driving her car, there had been no driver error, she had provided a reasonable explanation to Mr Gilliland for why she had driven her vehicle forward and Mr Gilliland's response was to push the victim to the ground.

"His actions were entirely unprovoked."

Justice Peters has declined to comment on the incident.