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Ivy Bar Manager feels "hugely let down"

Wed 25 Mar 2015 In: New Zealand Daily News View at NDHA

Mawhinney outside court following today's sentencing. Picture: Manager of Wellington’s Ivy Bar Steven Mawhinney says he feels hugely let down that any element of homophobia was wiped at the sentencing of a man who assaulted him last year. Adrian Sherman has been sentenced to four months’ community detention, supervision, a curfew of 7pm till 7am, and was ordered to pay Mawhinney $450 reparation, after admitting assaulting the duty manager at Ivy Bar on August 22 last year. Sherman had wandered into the bar with two friends, and man and a woman, not realising it was a gay bar. Homophobic slurs were shouted when they realised where they were, and while the group made to leave the bar, on their way out an associate of Sherman threw a can of alcohol at a patron. Further homophobic slurs were shouted and a scuffle broke out. Mawhinney stepped in and was assaulted – he was hit a number of times about the head. While Sherman admits assaulting Mawhinney, in court today his lawyer stated Sherman’s actions were not homophobic and that the homophobia had come from one of his client’s friends. The prosecution accepted this, despite homophobia being listed as an element throughout the case, and as an aggravating factor heading into sentencing. The judge stated that he would have considered jail time for Sherman, had homophobia remained an aggravating factor. Mawhinney says he was disgusted and surprised when the prosecution withdrew the assertion that Sherman’s behaviour was homophobic and much of the blame was shifted to an associate. “I felt let down, hugely let down,” he said outside court. Mawhinney maintains the right man was charged, saying he believes Sherman was the instigator of his assault and that the entire group was homophobic. He says the message the sentence sends seems very weak. “I can understand that for the judge, with the prosecution withdrawing the homophobic aspect, the judge doesn’t have much choice but to step it down, but it’s unfortunate that the prosecution decided to withdraw the nature of the homophobic attack.” Speaking to he added that he believed the right person was arrested for his assaulted, but the second man should also have been charged as he assaulted other customers. However it appears there was not enough evidence for charges to stand. Mawhinney believes Wellington’s lgbti community will feel let down by the sentence. He says many people in our communities do not speak up when they are victims of violence, and he fears today’s result will show there is no point. “It feels like it’s not taken seriously. That’s the feeling I got from the prosecutor today – it wasn’t taken seriously.” Mawhinney is hosting drinks at Ivy Bar from 5pm tonight to mark the ordeal being over. All are welcome.     

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Wednesday, 25th March 2015 - 2:19pm

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