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‘Enjoyed inflicting pain’

Subjected partner to four months of violence, abuse

A woman scrambled with her toddler through bush and across a river in a final effort to escape her partner's violence on a remote East Coast station, Gisborne District Court has heard.

It was an arduous walk that ended when she reached a main road and a stranger gave them a lift to Te Araroa police.

The woman's relationship with the 21-year-old man, lasted only four months but during that time she was regularly subjected to verbal abuse, and was pushed, punched and hit by all manner of projectiles, the court was told.

Judge Warren Cathcart yesterday sentenced the man to two years and four-and-a-half months imprisonment after he pleaded guilty earlier in the week to five counts of assault in a family relationship, two of assault with a weapon (a car and a knife), wilful damage (of the woman's car), unlicensed possession of a firearm and threatening to kill.

He has spent about 450 days in custody so will be eligible for parole soon.

The man was to have stood trial in the court this week on these charges and more serious ones alleging sexual offending and kidnapping, but courthouse Covid-19 restrictions meant there was not enough time.

The complainant preferred resolution over an adjournment.

Most of the remaining charges related to several attempts the woman made at escaping from the man during June last year.

In a victim statement read in court, she said the man should be ashamed of himself, deserved to be locked up and she did not want him to contact her ever again.

Her four months with him were the worst of her life.

He was violent, abusive and controlling — always angry, always wanting to fight and “out of it” on illicit drugs, she said.

His violence was often in front of her children (aged 10, seven, and two).

She said he “enjoyed inflicting pain”.

The offending significantly impacted her. She miscarried a pregnancy to the man. Her two-year-old child was removed from her care. She now suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and her anxiety was initially so crippling she was unable to leave her house even to visit family.

Only now, with the love and support of whanau and a new partner, did she feel empowered to start her life over.

She was contemplating counselling, looked forward to getting her youngest child back and a life free from violence.

She wondered what life had done to the man to make him behave the way he did to her, their unborn child and her other beautiful children.

According to an agreed summary of facts, the man violence emerged soon after the relationship began in March, last year.

The couple and her three children moved mid-April to a converted open plan woolshed on an isolated Tikitiki station. Access was via a remote road and involved a river crossing and a drive up a steep hill.

Another couple, associates of the man, also lived on the property.

The man and the victim regularly argued and he repeatedly assaulted her — sometimes giving her “hidings” up to three times a day, then inexplicably blaming her.

The children would scream and cry.

In one effort to escape, the victim bundled the children into her car while the man was drinking with his associates.

But the man gave chase in his vehicle, using it to repeatedly to ram the side of hers, almost tipping it over while she and the children were still inside.

When she refused to get out, he smashed her driver window with a beer bottle, showering her in glass.

A week later he purposefully stranded her vehicle in mud. She managed to call her parents, who came to get her and the children.

But four days later the man convinced her to return. She took her two-year-old but left the other children with their grandparents.

The man's abuse continued. After waking to find her leaving one night, he put a rifle to her head and threatened to kill both her and the toddler if she tried to go.

Another time he told her to leave but then threw a hunting knife at her. It missed but stuck in a wall. He again threatened to shoot her.

He was with a friend the day she finally fled.

The judge set a global sentence starting point, adjusted for totality, of three years, two months.

Any discount for youth was effectively cancelled out by uplift for his previous history, which already showed a propensity for family violence, the judge said.

Counsel Alistair Clarke submitted the man could get discrete discount for his background. He realised he was perpetuating the same violence that caused him to leave home at an early age.

Ms Mitchell said the Crown did not dispute it and was aware of that background.

But the judge said there was no documented evidence. He noted the man waived his right to a pre-sentence report earlier that week.

There was 25 percent discount for his guilty pleas.

A protection order favouring the complainant was previously issued.

- The defendant's name, which was previously published, has been removed after review for reasons pertaining to the victim and her children.