17 Apr 2009

Veitch sentenced on domestic violence charge

8:01 am on 17 April 2009

Former sports broadcaster Tony Veitch, who has admitted a serious domestic violence charge, has been sentenced to supervision, community service and a $10,000 fine.

Veitch, 34, had earlier faced six counts of assaulting former partner Kristin Dunne-Powell and one of injuring her with reckless disregard at his house in the Auckland suburb of St Heliers.

In a surprise move at Auckland District Court on Thursday, Veitch admitted the most serious charge, of injuring with reckless disregard.

The charge relates to an incident in January 2006 in which he kicked Ms Dunne-Powell after an argument while she was lying on the ground, fracturing her spine.

The six other assault charges have been dropped.

The court heard Ms Dunne-Powell agreed to this arrangement because she does not want to go through the ordeal of giving evidence and wants the media intrusion to end.

In her victim impact statement to the court, Ms Dunne-Powell said her spine was fractured two places causing muscle loss and disfigurement.

She told the court she experienced intense pain at the time of the assault and extreme discomfort for some time afterwards, and was later diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder.


Judge Jan Marie Doogue sentenced Veitch to nine months' supervision, 300 hours of community service and a $10,000 fine. He will have to pay court costs and go through an anti-violence programme if required.

The charge of injuring with reckless disregard carries a maximum penalty of five years' jail.

Judge Doogue has said it was a serious assault, and those who live in the public eye inevitably face additional exposure when they fall from grace.

She said nothing can detract from the fact that Veitch had committed an act of violence on an innocent party, and that he is the author of his own misfortune.

Veitch has already paid $12,000 in medical bills, $150,000 reparation to Ms Dunne-Powell and $5,000 to the organisation Preventing Violence in the Home.

Stunned at charges - Veitch

Outside court, Veitch said he realised what he did was wrong, but has had counseling and paid reparation.

He said he was still stunned the charges were brought against him, as 13 months after the incident he remained on amicable terms with Ms Dunne-Powell.

Veitch said he would have liked to have his day in court, but did not want the case strung out any longer.

His lawyer Stuart Grieve, QC, told Checkpoint his client pleaded guilty because he felt the single remaining charge accurately represented what he had done, and to save a lot of angst for many people.

Mr Grieve said Veitch's defence team was "ready to brawl", but there would have been a lot of "blood on the carpet" for everyone involved if the case had gone to trial and Ms Dunne-Powell would not have had an easy time.

Damages sought from media

Tony Veitch plans to take legal action against some media organisations. He said as a journalist he was disgusted with the way the issue was reported in some media which ran stories without fact.

Associate professor of media law, Ursula Cheer, says the broadcaster has been at the centre of an unremitting media campaign. She says key to his claims will be whether his reputation was damaged.

Veitch resigned from his jobs at Television New Zealand and The Radio Network in July last year.

Television New Zealand said on Thursday it does not have any opportunities for him at the moment while The Radio Network said any decision will be made in the future.

Mitch Harris, from competing stations RadioLIVE and BSport, is not ruling out giving Veitch a job but said there was nothing available at present and no discussions are taking place.