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Jailed for violent, prolonged beating

A 12-year-old boy lay on top of his mother in a desperate effort to stop his father beating her, Gisborne District Court heard.

Paki Stuart Waerea, 34, received a prison term of four years and four months, with a three strikes warning, from Judge Warren Cathcart.

Waerea pleaded guilty to charges of injuring with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, injuring with intent to injure, threatening to kill and assaulting a child last April.

The pleas came on the morning of Waerea’s scheduled jury trial last year after the Crown agreed to withdraw a charge of kidnapping, which could have seen the subsequent sentence starting point calibrated much higher.

The admissions earned Waerea a five-month sentence discount from the six-year starting point of the sentence.

Waerea also received discount of 15 months for his previous good character. Counsel Eric Forster said Waerea’s only previous criminal conviction was a drink-drive offence. He could be treated as a first offender with prospects for rehabilitation.

While Waerea’s background, like many who came before the courts, was rough and he grew up in a violent home, he had made a decision to live a law-abiding, productive life.

His mother, who was similarly law-abiding and hard-working, had taken steps to ensure her children were sheltered from a negative environment.

This offending was out of character for him. He was someone who coached sports teams, and this was a fall from grace, particularly among his social circle.

Stressed by the breakdown of his relationship with the mother of his children, and engaging in gambling which exacerbated issues, Waerea reached a point where he simply lost the plot and became extremely violent, Mr Forster said.

Injuries that were suffered by the complainants were moderately severe — not in the realms of some of the worst seen by the courts, Mr Forster said.

Prosecutor Rebecca Guthrie rebutted that submission, saying the injuries in this case were serious representations of the charges Waerea faced. The types of injuries Mr Forster referred to in other cases were covered by different charges.

Aggravating featuresJudge Cathcart noted at least seven aggravating features to the offending . . . a prolonged assault involving repeated punching, sometimes as many as 30 blows in succession; the woman’s detention when she could not escape from the vehicle in which the incidents took place; blows to the head; three acts of strangulation; threats with a weapon (a knife); threats to kill; and the vulnerability of the woman and her son.

Afterwards, the woman had heavy bruising to her back, torso, arms and head, significant scratches and ligature marks to her neck, a bleeding nose and cuts to her mouth.

Her son had no visible injuries but suffered an ongoing sore stomach from being punched there by his father.

Summarising what occurred, the judge said Waerea and the female complainant were in a relationship for 16 years. They had seven children together, including a 12-year-old boy who had been staying with Waerea in Hastings.

After driving to Gisborne to return the boy that morning as arranged, Waerea found the woman was not home. He became enraged and started looking for her.

Waerea established she was at a Kaiti property, where he found her walking down the driveway.

The woman was reluctant to get into the van because Waerea looked angry. He forced her in.

With their son in the passenger seat and the woman on the van floor, Waerea repeatedly punched her as he drove about town.

He threatened to throw her off a cliff and drove to Sponge Bay but left immediately when he saw other people.

He stopped the van nearby and forced his fist down the woman’s throat, choking her then punched her about 30 times.

The woman kept calling for her son’s help.

Waerea took them about 10km to the other side of Gisborne, punching the woman as he drove.

When the van stopped, the woman tried to get out the rear sliding door but it was locked. Waerea told their son to go for a walk but he refused, fearful for his mother’s safety.

Threaten to stabWaerea was threatening to stab her with a knife the boy had seen in the back.

When he tried to help his mother, Waerea punched the boy forcefully in the stomach.

Waerea climbed on top of the woman strangling her with her necklace until she almost lost consciousness. He released his grip, punched her again then pushed hard into her throat, restricting her breathing.

The woman panicked and yelled for her son to help. The boy pleaded with his father to stop. Waerea exited the van, saying he was going to get the knife.

The boy lay on top of his mother to protect her and refused to get off.

Waerea continued to punch the woman.

She begged him to take their son home. Waerea did so but threatened to bash the boy if he didn’t get back into the passenger seat.

Just short of the woman’s house, Waerea told his son to get out and that his mother would be dead by the time he had finished with her.

As Waerea drove off, the woman managed to open the sliding door of the van. Waerea braked heavily and she leaped out. She made it to a service station and called a taxi to her parents’ house.

Waerea followed but family members chased him away.

Gisborne Courthouse