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Sentence offers accused a chance, with hope 'he will make the most of it'

Assault accused ready for counselling, anger management.

A man reported to police while assaulting his partner on a Hamilton street was too unruly for officers to remove in a patrol car so was taken away in a secure police van, Gisborne District Court was told.

Tyson Tunia Heitia, 30, denied punching the woman. He said: “If I had she would have been a ****** mess, then you would have known all about it.”

He appeared for sentence before Judge Turitea Bolstad, having previously pleaded guilty to assault on a person in a family relationship, breach of a protection order and resisting police.

Last month, Judge Warren Cathcart granted an electronically-monitored bail variation to enable Heitia to travel from Gisborne to Hamilton for the tangi of his whangai father — slain Mongrel Mob man Deiderick John Grant.

Heitia complied without incident.

Judge Bolstad imposed four months community detention and 12 months intensive supervision.

She told Heitia the sentence was a chance for him and hoped he would make the most of it.

His offending happened within weeks of a five-day police safety order served on him after he refused to leave the victim's address, from which he was also trespassed.

About midday on April 2, Heitia saw the victim on Heaphy Terrace in Hamilton and drove his car the wrong way along the road in order to follow her as she was walking along the footpath.

He demanded she get in the vehicle and when she refused, he got out, grabbed her by the arms and head and tried to drag her towards it. He pushed her up against the vehicle and punched her in the arm, which caused her to fall to the ground. He tried to drag her into the vehicle by her hair.

Police arrived and arrested Heitia. He failed to comply when told to lie on the ground. He struggled as the officers managed to get a handcuff on his wrist.

Officers had to turn his head away to stop him spitting at them.

It was another minute before they could get the second handcuff on him.

Heitia, still non-compliant, continued to struggle as officers put him in the back of a patrol car and tried to spit at one of them. He was ultimately transported to the station in a secure police van.

As a result of Heitia assaulting her, his partner suffered minor bruising and abrasions to her arms and body.

One of the police officers claimed about $70 in reparation for his non-police issue pants, which were torn during the incident.

A Corrections Department report ahead of sentence, recommended home detention, which would allow Heitia to address his offending. Since 2018, sentences imposed on him had been consistently prison terms. He had never had a sentence comprising rehabilitative programmes.

Counsel Holly Tunstall advocated for the sentence combination imposed by the judge.

Referring to a pre-sentence report, Judge Bolstad noted Heitia had a criminal history littered with violent offending, beginning in 2005 when he was just 15.

He had five previous relevant convictions for family harm offending in relation to the same victim, including for assault with intent and injuring with intent to injure in 2017.

He would not discuss with the report writer reasons for his offending other than to say he and his partner were going through some stuff and that he had his own stuff.

He was assessed as being at high risk of reoffending and of posing a high risk to others. He tried to justify his actions by saying it was hard if the other person followed him when he tried to walk away.

He felt like he had been set up to go back to jail, which was not somewhere he wanted to be. He was open to anger management and other appropriate counselling.

Heitia and his partner have been together four years and were still in a relationship.

The judge fixed a sentence starting point of 18 months imprisonment, uplifting it by two months for Heitia's previous convictions and reducing it by a full 25 percent for his guilty pleas. She also took into account his two months compliance on electronically-monitored bail.