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Grateful not to be paralysed after back-stabbing by mate

A knife wound suffered by a man when his mate inexplicably stabbed him in the back at a party was just millimetres from his spine, Gisborne District Court was told.

He was grateful not to have been paralysed or to have died.

Martell Hiroki, 32, was jailed for 18 months when he appeared for sentence on charges of wounding with intent to injure, fraudulent use of a document and theft from a shop.

He received a strike warning for the wounding charge.

The sentence was imposed by Judge Warren Cathcart who set a starting point of 22 months with uplifts totalling four months for aggravating features — Hiroki was on release conditions, he had an extensive criminal history, committed other offences and was on bail during at least one of them.

There was a global discount of four months for remorse and for mitigating matters identified by cultural and pre-sentence reports.

Hiroki received four and a half months discount for his guilty pleas.

An additional month was imposed to be served cumulatively in lieu of unpaid fines of about $1500.

Reparation orders for $215 were made in respect of the fraund and theft charges—- $49 for a bottle of vodka Hiroki took from a local liquor store last April; and $166 for his repeated use on May 31 last year of a paywave card stolen from a woman’s handbag during an earlier burglary by an unnamed offender.

In submissions, counsel Vicky Thorpe pointed to the cultural report, which noted Hiroki’s exposure during his upbringing to the misuse of alcohol by others around him, his lack of education and resulting limited opportunities.

Ms Thorpe said despite those factors, Hiroki showed insight and wanted help to address his own misuse of alcohol, which undoubtedly led to this incident.

Summarising what occurred, Judge Cathcart said Hiroki and a mate were drinking at a small gathering hosted by Hiroki’s father last June.

There did not seem to be any issue between them, although in hindsight Hiroki might have been harbouring a grudge towards his mate, who had at one point pushed his father on the shoulder.

The victim noticed Hiroki looking at him strangely and asked whether there was a problem, but Hiroki said no.

Later, the pair went outside together to smoke cigarettes. When his mate went to go back inside, Hiroki — without warning — stabbed him in the back. The victim recalled turning to see Hiroki’s eyes wide open.

The man went a short way into the house before collapsing on the floor.

An ambulance was called, and he was hospitalised with a two-centimetre wound between his shoulder blades and just millimetres from his spine.

He was unable to work for two weeks.

The judge told Hiroki he should reflect on what could have occurred had the knife been just a few millimetres closer to the man’s spine. Hiroki could have been facing a much longer prison term.

Among Hiroki’s past convictions, many of them for dishonesty, was one for wounding with intent, the judge said.

Although dated, it was disturbing given Hiroki had used a weapon again.

Hiroki has been on remand in custody for about eight months — the equivalent of a 16-month prison term — so has about two months of this sentence left.