Three New Zealanders were this week handed custodial sentences at the Falklands' Magistrate’s Court after pleading guilty to violent disorder. Samuel Goldsworthy, Sonny Ball, and Chassy Duncan were each sentenced to prison terms lasting 14 months, 12 months, and eight months respectively.
The court heard that the three Kiwi fishermen were in Deano’s bar in Stanley on the evening of Monday June 29, having all arrived separately. Also in the pub were a group of friends having drinks.
One of the defendants, Sonny Ball, arrived after last orders had been rung, and took exception when he was refused service. As he was leaving the pub, Mr. Ball attacked one of the group of friends in an “out of the blue” and one-sided flurry of punches that left the man with several cuts and bruises to the face and head as well as a spiral fracture to the right hand.
The court further heard that Mr Goldsworthy attacked several other people in the pub. Witnesses described Mr Goldsworthy hitting a woman who was crouched on the floor and covering her head. As another of the group of friends tried to help her, Mr Goldsworthy punched him, before also punching the landlord of the pub as he too tried to help the woman.
At one point, the court heard, Mr Duncan swung from behind Mr Goldsworthy to strike another of the group of friends on the upper lip. Mr Duncan was holding a glass and it was described as “luck rather than judgment” that it didn’t result in a more serious injury.
Defending, Sterling Harcus, stressed that the three men had not set out that night to look for a fight. He added that the three arrived at the pub separately, and it was neither a planned nor a coordinated attack.
In reaching her sentence, Senior Magistrate Sarah Whitby said that the events surrounding all three defendants constituted serious acts of violence causing serious injury or distress.
Mrs Whitby did not suspend any of the sentences, arguing that only immediate imprisonment would fulfil the purpose of sentencing.
The three crewmembers work for New Zealand Sanford fishing company and had been fishing for toothfish since February with a South Georgia government license on board the San Aspiring.
Sanford sent a vessel, the San Aotea II, early in June on a more than 50-day round trip to retrieve the crew after their usual route flight routes home through South America became unavailable because of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown.
In a letter published in the Falklands' weekly, Penguin News, Sanford chief executive Volker Kuntzsch apologised to the victims and Falkland Islands residents for the behaviour of the men. He said the incident did not reflect Sanford's values.
While we extend our sincerest apologies, we do not believe that simply saying sorry is good enough to move on from this painful and embarrassing situation. We will do better. Our New Zealand team is already working on identifying meaningful steps to support your community.
The company later announced that the San Atoea II started its journey back to New Zealand with the remaining members of the fishing crew, arriving at Timaru, New Zealand at the end of July, where it had to comply with a several days quarantine. San Atoea II also carried a New Zealand/Falklands couple on honey moon that had been stranded in the Islands since the coronavirus lockdown
Meantime the San Aspiring with a fresh crew returned to fishing in South Georgia.