R v Gray [2021] NZDC 2639

Published 24 February 2021

Sentencing — wounding with intent to injure — broken leg — wilful ill treatment — child abuse — home detention — mitigating circumstances — Crohn's disease. The defendant appeared for sentence having pleaded guilty to a charge of wounding with intent to injure and one representative charge of wilful ill treatment of two children. He had broken the leg of a young child in his care and then failed to seek medical attention for the child, and had pushed the child down a flight of stairs. He had also shouted and sworn at the child such that the child cowered when in the defendant's presence, and neglected to feed the child causing him to lose a significant amount of weight. The wounding charge carried a maximum sentence of seven years' imprisonment and the wilful ill treatment charge carried a maximum sentence of 10 years' imprisonment. A pre-sentence report recommended a sentence of home detention on particular and special conditions. The defendant had pleaded guilty, which meant that the child victims and relatives did not have to appear in court to testify. The defendant had himself experienced mistreatment by his father, but the Judge noted that he was in a unique position to consider the consequences of such mistreatment and not repeat those mistakes. The defendant also suffered from Crohn's disease, and medical reports confirmed the seriousness of his condition. The nature of this disease meant that a prison sentence would be particularly harsh, and community detention was not realistically possible. Taking into account the time that the defendant had already spent on electronically-monitored bail, his violent upbringing, significant health issues, and his guilty plea, a notional end sentence of 22 months' imprisonment was reached. The Judge converted this to a sentence of nine months' home detention with standard and special conditions. Judgment date: 16 February 2021