Jac Rhys Howells in the dock at his sentencing for a violent incident. Photo / Pool
A man who used his car as a weapon has met his victims at a restorative justice session, and offered to pay the vet bills for the pet dog that was injured.
Jac Rhys Howells, a 24-year-old shearer from Rangiora, also offered to pay for the damage to the ute he repeatedly rammed when a domestic violence incident took an even nastier turn at the Ashley riverbed.
Two women who were walking their dogs at the riverbed intervened in the domestic row when Howells’ partner asked for help. He rammed their ute while the three women were inside.
They were not hurt, but a pet dog was injured when it was knocked out of the vehicle on to the ground.
Judge David Ruth was told at Howells’ sentencing in the Christchurch District Court that the restorative justice meeting had been successful. The victims began by wanting “the book” thrown at Howells, but ended by wanting him to get the help he needed.
He made his offer to pay for the damage to the ute and the injury to the dog.
Judge Ruth noted the reconciliation at the meeting.
“It is an example of why we have restorative justice as part of our process.”
He decided a prison term was not necessary and placed Howells on community detention with an overnight curfew for five months, and 12 months’ supervision when he will have to do a Driving Change programme, a Stopping Violence programme, counselling as directed, and not consume drugs or alcohol.
Howells had now been abstinent from alcohol for some time, his counsel Kerri Bell told the judge.
Judge Ruth also disqualified him from driving for a year from last January, followed by a period on an alcohol-detecting interlock device, and then a zero-alcohol licence.
Howells had admitted charges of driving while disqualified and drink-driving – in their aggravated form because of at least two earlier convictions – and two charges of assault using a vehicle as a weapon.
The series of attacks on the other ute ended when smoke began pouring from under the bonnet of Howells’ vehicle and he crashed it into a grass bank and got stuck.
The court was told that Howells was driving while disqualified and with a breath-alcohol level of 770mcg of alcohol to a litre of breath when the incident happened on November 29 last year.
After the argument with his partner began at the Ashley River near Sefton, she asked for help from two women who were walking their dogs. They agreed to drive her home.
The three women got into a Ford Ranger but Howells walked around it with his chest puffed out, intimidating them and smashed a wing mirror.
He then got in his own vehicle, and drove towards the other ute, narrowly missing it. He then looped around and drove it into the left side.
When at least one of the women got out, Howells drove at them again but swerved away at the last second.
The women got back into the ute and locked the doors before Howells drove into the front of the vehicle.
The women drove off, with Howells following. He rammed the back and side of the ute before his vehicle broke down and became stuck.
Police found him at the stuck vehicle and breath-tested him.