'Mindless thuggery' making Christchurch streets unsafe
Tuesday, 19 December 2006

Christchurch citizens were growing fearful of attacks by drunken youths and it was no longer safe on the streets late at night, Judge Philip Moran said when he jailed a teenager today. For what the Christchurch District Court judge called "mindless street thuggery", 18-year-old Michael Charles Brunning went to jail for 21 months.

His victim, 17-year-old Daniel Ball, was in court to see the sentencing. He still bears a scar from the beer bottle Brunning smashed in his face, and he thought the sentence was not long enough.

Judge Moran said the lacerations to Mr Ball's forehead, nose, and cheek ? missing his left eye by 5mm ? had had the potential to blind him. He was admitted to hospital and needed plastic surgery.

Defence counsel Liz Bulger said Brunning had accepted responsibility quickly, even though he had no detailed recollection of the incident. She acknowledged he had a serious issue with alcohol, but he had a good work record, support from family, friends, and his employer, and was sorry for the incident.

Crown prosecutor Catherine Butchard said it had been an attack with a weapon causing serious injury. Judge Moran recounted how abuse had been hurled from the car Brunning was travelling in, at another group of teenagers waiting quietly at a bus stop. The car then stopped and his group "monstered" the others, before Brunning swung the bottle at Mr Ball.

"This was mindless street thuggery in the early hours of the morning that has become all to common in the city. "It is no longer safe for the citizens to be out in the streets of Christchurch late at night for fear of being attacked by drunken youths."

He imposed a sentence that would act as a deterrent for Brunning and others minded to commit violence in the city. He also noted that Brunning had Youth Court convictions for burglary and arson.

Judge Moran jailed the teenager for 21 months but granted him leave to apply for home detention. He ordered that he undertake counselling or treatment for his drug and alcohol abuse problems. He ordered him to pay $160 to the victim, to cover the cost of some of the treatment.

- Stuff