A vineyard worker has drunkenly punched a 15-year-old girl in the face.
Ratu Isikeli Cawanikawai, 31, was walking on Market St in central Blenheim just before 10pm on Easter Monday.
The Fijian vineyard worker, in the country on the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme, had been drinking alcohol earlier in the evening and was intoxicated, the summary of facts said.
Cawanikawai approached a 15-year-old girl walking slightly behind her group of friends, and reached out and touched her arm.
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The girl yelled out in shock and ran to catch up with her friends.
Cawanikawai followed the girl and her friends told him to go away, but he kept moving closer to her.
The summary said he got “uncomfortably close” so the girl raised her arms to protect herself, and then pushed him away.
Cawanikawai grabbed her by the jaw and neck with his right hand, and the girl slapped him across the face.
He let go and punched the girl in the forehead before fleeing the scene, the summary said.
The girl had minor bruising to her forehead after the assault.
When spoken to by police, Cawanikawai declined to comment.
He admitted to a charge of male assaults female at the Blenheim District Court on Wednesday.
His lawyer John Holdaway said Cawanikawai did not have any previous convictions.
He would likely be sent back to Fiji after sentencing and his RSE visa would be cancelled, he said.
It would be difficult for him to complete community work or rehabilitative courses before he left, Holdaway said.
Judge Barbara Morris said Cawanikawai’s behaviour must have been “extremely concerning” for the girl.
“I suspect alcohol is behind this. You should do some alcohol counselling, but certainly you should not drink alcohol again.
“If you came back on a similar charge it would be a very different sentence.”
Cawanikawai was convicted and fined $350, to be paid by the end of the week.
“If you try to leave the country without paying that, you will be stopped at the border, so make sure you do,” Judge Morris said.