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Parole for violent attack

Parole for violent attack
"I thought I'd died, but I was still tripping....I was seeing demons"


This story includes details of abuse that may be upsetting.


A man who was jailed for a drug and alcohol-fuelled attack on an Ashburton family has been granted parole.

Lenoel Patrick Leef, now 32, assaulted a sleeping four-month-old baby in an Ashburton home before attacking her mother as she tried to protect the child.

The brutal attack happened on April 30, 2020, after Leef had consumed alcohol and acid (LSD) tablets while visiting a friend.

A scan after the incident found Leef had fractured both of the child's eye sockets.

Leef was sentenced to three years and eleven months in jail by Judge Joanna Maze in the Timaru District Court on June 3 last year.

He appeared before the Parole Board via audio-visual link on Thursday after completing a third of his sentence.

Since being in jail, Leef has completed a drug and alcohol treatment programme and had good reports from this time in prison.

Leef told the board he had learned a lot about setting good boundaries for himself and to think more about the consequences of his choices.

He said he used to think drugs were "just a bit of fun" but now realised it was "one of the worst choices" he'd ever made.

Leef remembers having a few drinks on the night of the attack. A friend offered him some LSD tablets. "They were double or triple dips," he said.

He hesitated initially, concerned about their strength, but eventually swallowed them.

He was watching music videos when he started to panic.

"I thought I'd died, but I was still tripping... I was seeing demons."

Leef remembers grabbing a butchers knife and slitting his own throat.

He collapsed on the floor. His friend applied a tea towel to the cut and called the ambulance.

Leef does not remember what happened next, but he recounted what he'd been told.

He attacked his friend, got over a fence and smashed through the neighbour's sliding door, hit the child and grabbed the mother by the hair.

"I can't remember much. It was all a blur to me. It was real scary."

He woke up in hospital after being in a coma for about a day.

Leef said he cried for months after the attack. "I'm not that type of person."

He acknowledged how the victims must feel.

"It's hurtful. It's something I would never wish on anyone."

Leef said the incident had made him afraid of LSD and hallucinatory drugs.

He told the board he'd been off alcohol and drugs for about three years, but started again "when Covid happened".

The board said Leef had complied well on bail before his jail sentence and they were confident he would comply with his parole conditions with the support of his whānau.

He will be released on parole in October to an address in the Far North.

Leef's parole conditions include not to travel to the South Island, not to consume drugs, and a curfew of 10pm to 5am.

He will appear before the Parole Board for a parole monitoring hearing in April next year.

What Happened

Leef was jailed after admitting charges of burglary, wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, assault with intent to injure and aggravated assault.

According to the summary of facts, Leef started to act strangely after consuming alcohol and drugs.

He cut at his own throat with a knife from the kitchen before scaling a fence and pounding on the neighbour's back door.

Leef then smashed a glass sliding door and stumbled into the home, landing on the floor next to the sleeping four-month-old girl.

He attacked the baby, punching her in the face and body, and then turned on the mother as she grabbed her daughter and tried to run away.

Leef pulled the fleeing mother by her hair and punched to her face and head, causing her to drop her child.

Leef was found lying on a bed when the police arrived.

"I'm going to "f*** you up," Leef said, before punching the police officer in the face.

During Leef's sentencing, the court was told the baby suffered abrasions to the top of her scalp, swelling to the right temple and right cheek and blood in her right ear - in addition to two fractured eye sockets.

Leef's lawyer Liz Bulger said Leef had a low risk of reoffending “subject to that issue with drugs and alcohol”.

Judge Maze said she accepted Leef's remorse was genuine and the attack was "completely out of character" but a prison sentence was the only possible outcome.

by Sharon Davis