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‘Complex’ teen who threatened to kill girlfriend convicted; gets permanent name suppression

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A teen who threatened to set his girlfriend’s hair on fire, held a knife to her throat and shot her with a BB gun has been convicted, but can’t be named. Photo / 123RF

A “complex” teen with aspirations for a career in music and now convictions for violence, will get to keep his name secret.

The 19-year-old who on separate occasions last year shot a young woman with a BB gun, held a knife to her throat and threatened to set her hair on fire, has been granted final name suppression for reasons related to endangerment of his own personal safety if his name was published.

He was charged last year with threatening to kill, two counts of assaulting a female, three counts of assaulting a person in a family relationship and two of wilful damage.

Despite efforts by the teenager’s lawyer to get him discharged without conviction, the young man has instead been sentenced to 12 months’ intensive supervision with special conditions, and four months’ community detention.

It was in the lead-up to the end of his three-and-a-half-month relationship with the victim last June that events unfolded.

The cumulative effect of a series of violent incidents would have had a lasting impact on the victim, the Nelson District Court heard. Photo / 123RF
The cumulative effect of a series of violent incidents would have had a lasting impact on the victim, the Nelson District Court heard. Photo / 123RF

In early April last year, the victim was with the defendant at his father’s house. She became afraid of how the young man was behaving and tried to leave as he threw water over her from a bottle.

She ran to her car and locked the doors. When the defendant could not get in he scratched the side of her car with a rock and then a key.

The police summary said the victim was able to drive off to a nearby street and as she was changing out of her wet clothes, the defendant arrived in his car, wound down his window and threw rocks at her car before driving off.

A few days later the pair were again at his father’s house, when the defendant became highly agitated. He grabbed a lighter and held it towards the victim’s hair, forcing her to move away from him to prevent her hair burning.

He then dropped the lighter, grabbed a pair of scissors, and held them above his shoulder as if he was going to stab the victim.

She backed away but he then stalked her down the hallway before flipping the scissors on himself, and held them to his own throat.

The victim was concerned for him and managed to get the scissors off him.

On the same day, the defendant grabbed his BB gun, held it to the victim’s forehead and said: “I’m going to shoot you,” before putting the gun on her arm, and shooting her.

In June last year the pair were talking about their relationship when she asked him if he had been cheating on her. The defendant became angry and grabbed a 20cm serrated knife, then backed the victim into a corner of the room with the knife against her throat saying: “I will cut your throat if you ever ask me that again.”

As the victim tried to leave the house, the defendant jumped out the window and chased her. He sat on her car in a way that prevented her from getting into it, then chased her down the street.

The victim was helped by the defendant’s father who walked her to her car.

A few days later the defendant scratched the victim’s chest while trying to get her phone after she had photographed him with an ex-girlfriend in a carpark in Nelson.

The next day they were together when the defendant bit the victim’s hand while again trying to grab her phone as she held on to it.

He then smashed it on the ground, shattering it before repeatedly spitting all over her head and jersey.

When later spoken to by police about the knife, he said, “I can’t explain it.”

He said he had grabbed the phone after about 15 minutes of trying to get the victim to go away.

“I broke it. I threw it at the ground. After I broke her phone she kept getting up in my face. I spat on her thinking it would make her get away from me. It didn’t,” the police summary said.

The Nelson District Court heard today how potentially fragile the defendant was, backed by professional reports, and how his creative abilities were a sign he was capable of “pulling himself out of his problems”.

A teenager has been sentenced to 12 months' intensive supervision and four months' community detention for his offending, but can't be named. Photo / Tracy Neal
A teenager has been sentenced to 12 months’ intensive supervision and four months’ community detention for his offending, but can’t be named. Photo / Tracy Neal

During sentencing today, Judge Tony Zohrab said some of the incidents were more serious than others, but the cumulative effect would have had a lasting impact on the victim.

“I consider this was serious offending and a discharge without conviction is not appropriate,” Judge Zohrab said.

He said the defendant was lucky with the charges laid by the police.

“They could have been a lot more serious than what you faced.”

Aggravating features included the use of weapons, the judge said. It was easy to justify a prison sentence, if not for the defendant’s age – he was 18 at the time, and his stage in life.

Judge Zohrab said a more realistic approach was to help rather than punish. The sentence of intensive supervision included a referral to the Department of Corrections’ psychology service to determine the need for specialist help.

In setting the order for final name suppression, Judge Zohrab was satisfied that publishing his name would likely cause extreme hardship and endanger the teenager’s safety.

He described the defendant as a “complex individual with complex issues”, for whom the non-publication threshold had been met.

Judge Zohrab said the police and community probation knew about him and there was nothing to be achieved by making his name public.

The defendant was also ordered to pay $2693 in reparation, and a protection order for the victim was sought.

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