27 Mar 2013

No jail for woman who beat Auckland man

3:05 pm on 27 March 2013

A woman who assaulted an Auckland businessman who later died from his injuries has avoided jail.

At the High Court in Auckland on Wednesday, Natalie Van Breugel was sentenced to 12 months' home detention and 400 hours' community service after pleading guilty to a charge of wounding with intent to injure.

She has admitted assaulting Lance Bain several times with a rubber mallet after seeing text messages from another woman and learning he had sold a car she was interested in.

She attacked Mr Bain while he was drunk and asleep in bed at her home in Auckland in 2011.

He initially refused medical treatment and when he finally went to hospital two weeks later his wounds were so infected they were infested with maggots.

He died from an infection from his injuries.

In sentencing, Justice Peters said both Van Breugel and Mr Bain were alcoholics and the assault would not have occurred if she had not been drinking.

The judge said the tragic outcome was disproportionate to the injuries inflicted.

Mr Bain's daughter, Shelby Bain, read a victim impact statement to the court saying her father's death had altered her life and affected her education and health.

Afterwards, Van Breugel's lawyer, Christopher Wilkinson-Smith, says she's sorry and is glad the judge acknowledged that when sentencing her.

"She was very relieved; she's had this hanging over her for about 14 months. Originally it was a manslaughter charge and that was reduced. And today the question was whether she goes to prison or home detention so she's relieved."

Mr Wilkinson-Smith says the shin injury that caused Mr Bain's death was very minor but had fatal consequences because he had underlying health problems.

According to the police summary of facts he had cirrhosis of the liver, diabetes and was a chronic alcoholic.