Sparky slated for hit and run



A pissed Brit’s sucker-punch left a man lying unconscious on a Camp Street footpath with blood streaming from his ear.

Queenstown electrician Daniel Joseph O’Rourke then ran away, clutching food he’d just bought from Night ‘n Day.

It was 1.40am on January 29, and the pair had just had a verbal over who was next in line at the shop’s counter.

Described as a “coward’s punch” by his own lawyer, Louise Denton, in Queenstown’s court on Tuesday, the unexpected blow landed flush on the victim’s chin, snapping his head back.

He then fell backwards and hit his head on the pavement, ending up in Dunedin Hospital with a skull fracture, traumatic brain injury and concussion.

O’Rourke, 30, of Shotover Country, admitted a charge of injuring with reckless disregard this week.

Denton said the defendant ran because he “panicked”.

He handed himself in the next day, unaware the police had already identified him through CCTV footage and electronic transaction records.

He was a “hard-working, family-orientated young man” who, through counselling, had realised he was not coping with a family-related issue in his home country, she said.

Judge John Strettell said the injury’s having a long-lasting impact on the victim.

“You punched him without any regard for what the results might be.”

From a starting point of 14 months’ prison, Strettell converted the sentence to six months’ community detention, with a curfew, and nine months’ supervision to allow intervention for O’Rourke’s issues. He must also pay the victim $5000 reparation for emotional harm.

The incident will bring back memories for many locals of a similar assault, only metres from the same spot, just over a decade earlier.

Mark James Smith, 47, died after being struck with a roundhouse punch by another pissed Brit, Paul Richards.

The pair got into a fight after an argument over a taxi.

Smith died where he lay, and Richards was jailed for two years and ordered to pay $50,000 reparation after admitting a charge of manslaughter.