Unprovoked attack caused Wellington bar owners permanent injuries

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Hugh Soper in Wellington District Court was convicted of assaulting a bar.

Ross Giblin / Stuff

Hugh Soper in Wellington District Court was convicted of assaulting a bar.

Two Wellington bar owners are left with permanent wounds and feel like they’ve lost 10 years of their lives after an unprovoked attack by a boss.

Ray and Sue Cullis were in court to see what finally happened to Hugh Soper, who had waited over two years for a verdict.

Both victim-effect statements were read to Wellington District Court judge Bruce Davidson in his ruling on Friday. They detailed their suffering and medical treatment in the years since the 2019 attack.

Soper, 23, was at her bars Sprig and Fern in Thorndon one Sunday night. After a minor argument in which a friend was asked to leave, Soper threatened to hit 72-year-old Ray Cullis with a glass of beer with his arm, and then punched him three or four times and kicked him in the head.

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Sue Cullis broke her hand trying to intervene. Others had to drag Soper away.

Ray Cullis’ jaw was dislocated and he had to have a head scan to see if there were any broken bones in his skull. His left eye was permanently damaged and needed surgery to fix it, while his wife, who was broken several times during treatment, had to undergo multiple surgeries on her left hand.

Sprig and Fern Tavern on Tinakori Road is owned by Ray and Sue Cullis.

Ross Giblin

Sprig and Fern Tavern on Tinakori Road is owned by Ray and Sue Cullis.

The couple said they had a budding friendship with Soper’s mother and had offered her a job in the past.

Ray Cullis said he had balance problems after being punched on the left side of his head. He felt like he had lost 10 years of their lives.

Soper was found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm and injuring through reckless negligence.

Defense attorney Mike Antunovic said Soper regretted and was ashamed of kicking the victim in the head.

Soper said she never had the opportunity to tell them how she felt or to say that she was sorry.

“She’s sending her apologies through me.”

Judge Bruce Davidson sentenced Hugh Soper to seven months in home detention for assaulting two public officials.

Dominion-Post

Judge Bruce Davidson sentenced Hugh Soper to seven months in home detention for assaulting two public officials.

Judge Davidson sentenced Soper to seven months of house arrest, ordered him to abstain from alcohol and pay $4,000 in emotional damages.

He said reparation could never be seen to adequately compensate for those who were the victims.

The judge said the attack was very momentary, impulsive, and overreacted, which was significant for him.

Davidson said Soper suffers from anxiety, which makes her prone to spontaneous outbursts in certain situations.

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