A Canberra father who forced his way into a house and broke a man's jaw "in the spur of the moment" says he will offer his victim $1000 in compensation.
But a judge has questioned his purported gestures of remorse, saying there's "nothing genuine" about writing an apology letter on lawyers' advice.
In the ACT Supreme Court on Monday, Justice Michael Elkaim delivered a scathing assessment of Atunaisa Folauhola.
He said the 23-year-old was not "very impressive" when he was on the witness stand, nor when he was sitting in the dock chatting with friends and family.
"If I sentence him now, he's going to go to prison, but I will give you the opportunity to have an [intensive correction order] assessment," Justice Elkaim told lawyer John Purnell SC.
An intensive correction order is a jail sentence served in the community, rather than behind bars. The court will get a report back on December 16, when Justice Elkaim will sentence Folauhola.
On the witness stand, Folauhola told the court he felt "terribly sorry" he put his victim through a "such a traumatic situation" when he forced his way into the man's Moncrieff home on December 7 last year.
He said he'd gone to the house to recover items his victim had stolen from him, including a $2000 Gucci watch, $400 headphones, car keys and $1000 cash.
Folauhola admitted he broke the man's jaw, which later required surgery, but said he didn't intend to hit him when he got to the house.
He said he assaulted the man in the spur of the moment, and stole the victim's mobile phone and keys in "sort of a revenge move".
"I seen my headphones on his couch and I seen my car keys on his kitchen bench [sic]," Folauhola said.
"I felt very angry that he lied so many times to me that he didn't have it."
Folauhola said it was his idea to write an apology letter to the victim last Friday, but Justice Elkaim said: "Why didn't you send if off a couple of months ago?"
He said it seemed Folauhola had instead been advised by his lawyers to write the letter, and there was "nothing genuine about that".
The judge questioned why Folauhola didn't go to police about the stolen items and, by his barrister's own concession, "took the law into his own hands".
He said Folauhola "didn't seem to learn much of a lesson" from being dealt a suspended sentence for an old, unrelated offence.
Mr Purnell said: "[This conduct is] not great conduct but it is understandable, in my submission, that he would act badly in the circumstances."
Justice Elkaim "reluctantly" agreed to let Folauhola be assessed for an intensive correction order.
"He'll have to impress the [assessors a lot] if he's going to avoid going to prison," the judge said.
Folauhola has pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary, theft, and occasioning to the victim grievous bodily harm.