Two students who received jail sentences for assaulting a Wanganui Collegiate School boy have successfully appealed the charges and had their convictions quashed.
Hautahi Rawiri Kingi, a 19-year old student at Victoria University, was charged with assault with intent to injure, after confronting his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend and then Wanganui Collegiate School student, in early July 2006.
He and a co-accused, Guy Francis McEwen, who prevented anyone from intervening in the assault, pleaded guilty to the charge and were sentenced in the Wanganui District Court to five months, and four months in jail respectively by Judge John Clapham in May 2007.
In an appeal in the High Court at Wanganui in September 2007, Kingi and McEwen were discharged without conviction by Judge Simon France, who said he didn't consider a custodial sentence was appropriate or required in the circumstances.
Judge France said the charge was at the lower end of the scale, and the injuries to the victim minor. Kingi acted totally out of character, which was in some way explained by his psychological report, which detailed how he had been deeply affected by the breakup with his girlfriend, was having trouble with the transition to university life, and had just received some bad family news.
His symptoms at the time were considered consistent with a major depressive episode.
Both men took part fully in restorative justice, which had a positive outcome and satisfied the victim. Among the terms agreed and completed were 250 hours of community work (Kingi) and 200 hours (McElwen), letters of apology, emotional harm reparation and personal counselling.
McEwen facilitated the assault by preventing it being stopped, and in that was he was a participant, Judge France said, but he was also a young man of talent and promise and he equally accepted responsibility and participated fully in community work.
Judge France deemed them two young men of "great promise" who had significantly erred.
"A jail term could have devastating effect on two young persons who have much to offer, and who at all times other than this one occasion have indicated they will realise that promise. Their expressions of remorse are genuine and their efforts at making amends exemplary."
He concluded that the court was faced with two young men of "outstanding" potential who could make a very significant contribution, who had served an appropriate punishment and there was no suggestion of any chance of this type of conduct happening again.