A senior public servant is on trial in the Wellington District Court accused of assaulting a relative.
The court has suppressed the man's name and other identifying details until at least the end of the trial.
Crown prosecutor Paul Dacre told the jury on Monday that the charge arose from an incident in central Wellington in August 2008.
The complainant said he had stolen money from the accused, who found him in Manners Mall, dragged him to a nearby car and pushed him into the back seat.
Mr Dacre said the complainant was punched so hard that the car could be seen rocking from side to side.
In a brief opening statement, the defence said the accused denies the assault and says he has never used violence against the complainant.
The trial is expected to last a week.