Judge laments boozy violence in Queenstown


A Queenstown court judge has let rip about drunken violence in local bars, asking when the community will stop condoning it.

Judge Kevin Phillips, in Queenstown District Court on Monday, fumed: “We have ongoing violence in bars in Queenstown … every weekend serious violence, when are we going to stop condoning it?

“When do we teach these young people it’s not a computer game – when you hit someone … people stay down and can be seriously hurt and [affected] for the rest of their lives?

“Every day judges sit in this court … [the list] is made up of young men, from New Zealand or overseas, who’ve committed acts of serious violence in bars which are still open at two or three in the morning.

“There is fast coming the time when even first offenders will go through that door to prison for a relatively lengthy period of time and destroy their lives accordingly,” he ranted.

Phillips delivered his serve when sentencing Sunshine Bay labourer Samuel James Corson, who’d previously admitted injuring visiting Aucklander Mike Knight with reckless disregard in Skybar in July.

Knight – with fractures to his cheek, eye socket and nose plus nerve damage – was left unconscious after Corson’s attack and is still recovering.

The court heard Corson was at Skybar with a pal who had told him he’d been head-butted.

Corson punched Knight whom he’d never met twice to the face.

Knight had surgery the following day and ongoing issues including numbness.

Corson had no recollection due to his level of intoxication, the court heard.

His defence counsel Mike Newell said Corson had a previously unblemished record, accepted responsibility early and had $5000 for an emotional harm payment.

“He can’t undo it, but he’s done everything since to put it as right as he possibly can.”

Judge Phillips said Corson was a young man given every advantage in life: “On this particular night you threw it all to the wind.

“What can you say about it? You can’t even recall, you were so drunk. I just get appalled by young men acting in this violent way.

“Drunk actions are actions. Drunkenness is not an excuse. You say that you’ll remember that night.

“The victim will remember it forever, every time he looks in the mirror.”

Judge Phillips sentenced him to six months’ home detention and ordered him to pay $2815.29 reparation plus $5000 for emotional harm.

Corson was also sentenced to 200 hours’ community work.

Last month, Knight told Mountain Scene he was relieved at the guilty plea but still suffered nerve damage and most of the left side of his face was numb.