A teenager has been sentenced to almost nine years' jail for badly beating an elderly man and attempting to steal his car outside a South Auckland RSA.
Returned serviceman Eric Brady, 85, suffered a broken jaw, cheekbones and an eye socket in the attack in February this year.
It was revealed in Manukau District Court on Thursday that his 19-year-old assailant Maurangi Pere was on bail at the time, and had been on a month-long crime spree.
Among the other offences he committed were burglaries and car-jacking the vehicle of a 65-year-old man at knife-point.
Judge Charles Blackie described the attack as a gratuitously violent and cowardly crime.
He told Pere he attacked a man who had risked his own life to protect him and the rest of the country in World War II.
The judge said Mr Brady sounded the car's horn for help, causing his attacker to run away, but when Pere realised no-one had heard he ran back and beat him.
Judge Blackie sentenced Pere to eight years 10 months in jail with a minimum non-parole period of half that.
Pere was also sentenced in relation to six other charges which will be served concurrently.
Outside court Eric Brady explained how the attack has changed his life.
"How it affected me - my eating and my confidence when I walk down the street; and I see people staring at me and I think, oh, there's another attack on, that type of thing."
Pere's lawyer Amit Malik says the sentence is fair and they won't be appealing.
But his client and the victim have been let down by a system that failed to intervene when Pere was first identified as an at risk youth.
"He was a man that was identified very early on as being at high risk, and I think there's a real issue now that where that identification has been made that proper intervention is put in place; and while Mr Pere has to acknowledge what he's done, I think that we also need to look at how our agencies respond to at-risk youth."
Mr Malik acknowledged that his client was troubled, having joined a gang while in prison previously and in need of intensive rehabilitation.