August 27, 2009

'Political attack' brings long jail term

A 29-year-old man’s attack using scissors on a person he viewed as a fascist across the road from where he was partying has drawn an eight-and-a-half year jail term in the Christchurch District Court.

Kaili Tawhara Nepe, also known as Rule, was found guilty at a jury trial of wounding the man with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, though he continues to deny the offending.

The scars on the attack victim’s head were clear to the judge and the jury as he gave his evidence at trial.

Nepe had only been out of jail for three weeks, and was still subject to prison release conditions, when the disastrous night took place on November 28 at the small Pines Beach settlement, north of Christchurch.

Nepe was picked up by police early that night for drink-driving and was processed and released on police bail. He continued drinking.

During the party at Pines Beach, he charged across the road and jumped the fence of a house where the victim was having a quiet drink with his partner and stepdaughter.

Judge Raoul Neave said Nepe was carrying scissors and once the attack began “it became pretty inevitable they would be used”.

The victim received head wounds and is having continuing problems with a shoulder that was dislocated. The attack was extremely distressing for the other family members.

Nepe had been egged on by others “in the most disgraceful fashion possible”, said the judge.

“You got it into your head to punish him for what you thought were repellent political views, but the only person behaving like a fascist was you.”

Even if the victim did hold those views, the price of a democracy was that people were perfectly free to hold whatever views they liked as long as they did not harm other people, said the judge.

He regarded that aspect of the attack as a seriously aggravating feature.

Defence counsel Lee-Lee Heah had sought a sentence that did not crush any genuine desire that Nepe had to deal with his problems.

Crown prosecutor Claire Boshier said Nepe continued to deny the substance of the offending and asked for a minimum non-parole term to be imposed.

The judge noted the Court of Appeal set higher sentences for vigilante action or hate crime. “There is an element of that in this case. You attacked him because you didn’t agree with his views.”

He added to the sentence because Nepe was on bail and subject to prison release conditions at the time, but gave a small reduction because he was “remorseful for getting yourself into this situation and causing harm to the complainant”.

He noted Nepe’s problem with alcohol and warned him that further offending would bring even longer sentences.

“You leave the courts no alternative but to lock you up until you drink yourself to death or see the error of your ways.”

No minimum non-parole term was imposed.