A Queenstown doctor has detailed how lives can be ruined by injuries sustained in vicious drunken assaults.
Dr Dave Dixon (right), a medical officer at Lakes District Hospital, sees first-hand the damage caused by booze-fuelled violence in the resort.
Last Friday, a 32-year-old local man became the latest victim – kicked twice in the head during an unprovoked assault in Earnslaw Park.
Two weeks ago, five men were charged in relation to three separate assaults that saw victims allegedly kicked while on the ground – prompting police to increase their presence on the streets.
Dr Dixon says: “Obviously head injuries can be severely dangerous.
“Bleeding on the brain is bleeding in an enclosed space, so increases pressure inside the brain. Severe injuries will be flown to the neurosurgical unit in Dunedin for CT scanning and intervention or monitoring, while more minor ones will go to Invercargill for a scan.
“Concussions can cause lasting effects for memory, headaches and the ability of someone to work and hold down a full-time job.
“And then there’s bony injuries, fractures, black eyes and lacerations which cause superficial scarring. Whilst not necessarily life-threatening, scarring can have a psychological effect, especially for young individuals. It has a marked effect on their confidence.”
Police crime statistics show the number of assaults in Queenstown has fallen year on year since 2009, with 226 recorded from June 2009 to June 2010, 213 the next 12 months, and 182 to June 2012.
But the nature of recent assaults concerns Dixon, who says resources at LDH can be stretched during busy peak season weekend nights.
“Lots of injuries come from the head hitting the ground as well as direct contact.
“But if someone is knocked out and they have repetitive injuries to the head, and are unable to get an arm in the way to defend themselves, I would have to think that would have an effect.”
It’s not just tourists who are involved.
Queenstown McDonald’s manager Rishi Kumar was sentenced to seven months’ home detention for kicking a boozed customer in the head who repeatedly returned to an area closed to the public.
In October, a 32-year-old bar manager was charged with assault with intent to injure after allegedly landing 20 unreturned punches on a customer.
Queenstown police have asked the public for help to identify the Earnslaw Park attacker. He is described as Irish, possibly called ‘Seamus’, about 1.8 metres tall, mid- 20s, and possibly has ginger hair.
Drink driving ‘thief’
A Canadian was processed for drink-driving after police spotted him loading up on midnight snacks at Frankton’s BP garage.
Sergeant Steve Watt says officers spotted the 23-year-old man while they were in the petrol station paying for fuel.
“He appeared somewhat intoxicated as he walked back around the shop picking up snacks. Officers checked with the attendant that he had driven in.”
The Canadian blew 639 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath. The legal limit is 400mg.
Police processed two other drivers for drink-driving over the weekend – a 27-year-old man from the Czech Republic was stopped on Shotover Street at 5.30am on Sunday and blew a reading of 634mg, and a 24-year-
old Queenstowner was also busted on Lake Esplanade at 4am the same morning.