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Suspended sentence for road rage assault

A motorist who punched another driver in the mouth during what was described in court as a road rage incident, tried unsuccessfully to get a discharge without conviction.

Shawn Fredrick Royster, 44, was previously found guilty of assault (laid under the Crimes Act) by Judge Chris McGuire at a judge-alone trial in Gisborne District Court.

During that hearing Royster claimed he acted in self-defence, which the judge largely accepted. The victim was angry at the time.

But as argued by police, the force Royster used was excessive, Judge McGuire said. The victim was still in his vehicle and restrained by his seat belt when Royster struck him.

Royster was sentenced this week in the court by Judge Warren Cathcart, who ordered him to come up for sentence if required within six months and to pay the victim $606.70 for medical and dental expenses and $500 for emotional harm.

The judge refused to grant Royster's application for a discharge without conviction, saying the grounds on which it was advanced were supported by evidential material that was too generic, too speculative and lacked necessary detail.

The application rested solely on an affidavit from Royster, in which he claimed his family, particularly his children, would suffer as a consequence of conviction; and that he might be precluded from international travel particularly to countries where he needed to go for a business, of which he was owner-director.

Judge Cathcart said the ground regarding travel restriction was the stronger of the two advanced, but Royster failed to show a “real and appreciable risk” of either consequence, which was required by the legal test for these applications.

The court sympathised with the potential for Royster's family to be affected by the conviction but it was an ordinary consequence that flowed for most offenders, Judge Cathcart said.

The judge noted the offence level was moderate.

Royster was a first-time offender of otherwise exemplary character,

He had since acknowledged the force he used was unreasonable, was willing to pay reparation and expressed his apology to the victim, albeit that was rejected.

Royster could not point to a guilty plea in aid of his application as he pursued the matter to a trial, Judge Cathcart said.