I had been telling Lily about this song, "Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick" - by Ian Dury and the Blockheads, first released November 23, 1978. I had been trying to explain to her that it was not a song advocating violence. Thus, thinking of "hitting things", I coincidentally happened to overhear a shocking NZ TV news item today. Now, I don't watch much TV, because the quality of NZ TV, like the quality and ethics of some of its presenters and managers - as we shall see - seems to be execrable. However, this news item really grabbed my attention. It was about a TV "presenter" (I think he's a sports reporter), one Tony Veitch, who has just publicly (at a press conference that he convened) admitted to an assault on his former partner and lover - Ms Kristin Dunne-Powell (33). News reports do not give the date of the assault except that it was sometime in 2006.
Poor old Tony, he seems like one heck of a nice guy, and it's a shame that something like this should happen to someone like him, and he's obviously full of remorse - I mean, he said quite categorically that it is something he'll regret for the rest of his life, and he's even had counselling about it for a whole year - and he'd secretly agreed to pay Kristin more than NZ$100,000 in return for her silence about the "incident" - a "confidentiality agreement" he called it. He said he wasn't making any excuses for his actions; his relationship had just ended and he'd been working seven days a week at two jobs and was on medication for emotional and physical exhaustion.
He said that the counselling he underwent for a year allowed him to have a relationship with his current wife Zoe Halford, whom he told about the assault shortly after they met and who has been completely supportive of him. She sounds like a nice girl - and she looks like a reasonably attractive blonde too, from the photos. She was standing behind and slightly to one side of him, one hand occasionally supportively placed on his shoulder, during the media pantomime. It was so sweet.
"I know what I did was wrong and it will never happen again ... I was at the lowest ebb of my life and I needed help.", he said.
My heart went out to him, and I thought, "Poor bloke. Well, that seems OK then - doesn't it? All gone and forgotten now, eh?"
Well, erm, no - not quite. You see, it's the scale of the assault that matters - it literally boggles the mind.
It doesn't yet seem clear as to who exactly broke the (evident) code of silence on this, necessitating the belated and hastily convened press conference and resultant public image damage control, but what has come out is that, after he had just broken up with Kristin, Tony had agreed for her to come over to his house, and over dinner they had had an argument.He what? How did that happen?
As poor Tony put it "I broke and lashed out."
At this point, I thought "I bet she was asking for it anyway", but then I had to rethink, because "Lashed out" in this case would seem to be a seriously good media euphemism of the sort that the rest of us could only hope to dream up - somewhat akin to Hitler being coached by Hermann Goering to admit "I had a few teething troubles in applying the solution to the Jewish problem.".
You see, it seems that Veitch's assault on his former partner was an incredibly violent onslaught. He repeatedly kicked her, so violently that he fractured her back in four places and inflicted a head injury.
A former work colleague of Kristin's said that Veitch had kicked his former lover as she lay on the floor of his bedroom (we are not told how she got on the floor in the first place), "He kicked her so hard he broke four vertebrae ... She couldn't walk ... She went from a lovely sporty girl to someone who lost a lot of back muscle. She was seriously weakened."
One wonders if Veitch had had the forethought to put his steel-capped boots on especially for the occasion, or whether it was a spur-of-the-moment kind of thing where he risked inadvertently damaging a pair of otherwise quite good leather dress shoes. Maybe it was rugby boots and he thought he was kicking a ball into touch? Stubborn ball though. Only he would know, and he wasn't saying.
In any event, it must have been some seriously good kicking by Veitch. Kristin had to stay in a wheelchair for some time. But yet, according to "another source" earlier this week, the pair had agreed to stick to a story that she had fallen on the stairs.
Kristin apparently spent months away from her job as Vodafone's general manager of marketing, and then she had a breakdown and was later forced to quit work.
OK, so you've just kicked your former lover within an inch of her life, for what may have seemed like a perfectly valid reason at the time. So what do you do when you start to come to your senses and begin to realise the horror of what you have just done - and you probably don't realise the full extent of the horror because you wouldn't necessarily know you'd broken your victim's back in 4 places yet? (This is what's known as being in a potentially "life-threatening condition".)
Well, of course, you'd get a doctor and, in her potentially life-threatening condition, your victim would be whipped off to hospital pronto - right? I mean, like, that's what I do every time I beat my missus up. It stands to reason, dunnit? It's not like I'm inhuman or anything.
Well, erm, no. It is also understood that it was "some hours" before Kristin - a victim who could have been in a potentially life-threatening condition - arrived at hospital in Auckland.
This Ms Kristin Dunne-Powell must be made of some stern stuff, for a victim of a classic case of grievous body harm through brutal and barbaric domestic violence, because she is now back in harness as chief operating officer of broadband firm Woosh.So, I guess we can expect the NZ Police to sort it out from here on in - right?
But, she did not file a complaint with police. I guess that's what you do to a victim - get them to hush things up with NZ$100,000 as payment for smashing their spine and their lives to pieces. Bullies and thugs who beat the living daylights out of weak and helpless victims do not like to be exposed for the psychopathic, cowardly and vile creatures that they are, and certainly are afraid of being made by law to pay for their misdeeds in society.
Well, erm, no, actually.
Earlier, police said they could investigate an assault by television presenter Tony Veitch on his former partner without an official complaint, but that it would be difficult. Auckland police spokeswoman Noreen Hegarty said police could investigate the allegations, but that they would need some evidence.
Quote: "But who would know, unless you got that from the complainant?"
She said a complainant would add weight to any prosecution.
The NZ Herald reports Tony Veitch home searched by police, and describes belated action by the police, who "...have seized items belonging to Tony Veitch after a search was conducted on his Herne Bay house". Veitch apparently had his wife and - at one point - 2 top lawyers (one defence lawyer, and one employment lawyer) with him, who both apparently had black Audi motor cars. [Ed: This may be a coincidence, or possible evidence of a new de rigeur for top lawyers, nowadays.] The report also states that "Veitch agreed to pay Dunne-Powell $150,000 compensation last December after nearly three months of negotiations. He also agreed to make a further $5000 contribution to a women's anti-violence group."
And, anyway, enough about Kristin already - what about poor old Veitch?
Veitch took leave from his Radio Sport breakfast show yesterday. He has also agreed to stand down from his presenting roles at TVNZ (no great loss to the NZ viewing public there, one suspects).
And, get this - pressure is still mounting on TVNZ to disclose how long their management knew about the assault. Well, of course - stands to reason - you don't want to have to pull a psychopathic bully off the program if he gets ratings - do you? Nah. I mean, ferchrissakes, he might be the best you've got!
TVNZ and The Radio Network, which owns Radio Sport, said yesterday afternoon that Veitch would step down whilst the allegations were "reviewed". It's impressive to see someone taking such responsible and prompt action, for something that happened a couple or more years ago, now that the code of silence has been blown.
Meanwhile, a group has been formed on the social networking site Facebook, calling for people to boycott media appearances by Veitch. Sixty-seven people had reportedly joined the group by this morning.
"Get Tony Veitch woman beater off TV"
I just went over to Facebook to start a site calling for people to petition their support of Veitch in what must be dreadfully trying times for him. However, I saw that some wag had already beaten me to it, so I didn't bother.
"The boycott of the boycott media appearances by Veitch"
Like my mate Bryan puts it, "What do you say to a woman with a black eye? Answer: 'Shut the f#ck up or you'll get another one.' "
Or, as Punch puts it, "That's the way to do it!"
Now, where'd I put my footy boots?...