Woman feared for life during attack with scissors and bat

November 28, 2017 | By More

File image. © Andrew Bardwell

A woman feared she would be killed during an hour-long assault by 32-year-old Tama Wiremu Mahanga.

The assault at her Christchurch home included a beating with a baseball bat, and scissors being held to her throat.

While he held the scissors, Mahanga told the woman: “Tell the truth because your life depends on it.”

His Christchurch District Court sentencing was interrupted at Judge Alistair Garland’s request while three children were escorted from the courtroom by security staff.

The interruption included a 13-year-old boy abusing the judge as he left.

Mahanga had pleaded guilty to charges of intentionally injuring the woman on March 28, and assaulting her the day before.

The two had been in an on-and-off relationship, the court was told.

Defence counsel Allister Davis asked the judge to take into account that although weapons had been used, no serious injuries had been caused. The woman had been bruised, but no bones had been broken.

He said that although Mahanga had five pages listing his previous criminal history, there was only one conviction for domestic violence.

Judge Garland said Mahanga punched the woman in the face after she received a text from a male associate while he was at her home.

The next day, he went to her home again and they argued again. He sat on top of her and pinned her to the bed for 30 minutes and then held the scissors to her throat before punching her repeatedly on the face and head.

He then struck her several times with the baseball bat on the arms, legs, back and ribs, and struck her on the head with the bat’s handle.

When she cried out, Mahanga told her to be quiet because she was “being too loud”.

He told her, “Don’t even think about leaving,” and said that if the police turned up he would “go hard”. Judge Garland took that to mean he would increase the severity of the assault.

He eventually put down the bat and told the woman to roll a cigarette for him.

The woman was left with extensive bruising on her head, face, arms, and body.

Judge Garland said Mahanga had witnessed violence from an early age and had never fully reconciled his own experience with society’s expectation that relationships would occur without violence.

He was assessed as being a high risk of reoffending and causing harm to others.

The woman had suffered serious emotional harm as well as the physical injuries. She said in her victim impact statement that she was “scared for my life during the assault and did not know when it would stop”.

“I had to work hard to appeal to his good side so the assault would not get worse,” she said. “I still care for Tama and want him to get help. He has deep-seated issues on top of a drug habit that he needs to address before can change his behaviour.”

Judge Garland said the use of the scissors and bat meant the assault had the potential for really serious harm, but he also reduced the sentence for Mahanga’s guilty pleas and remorse, before imposing a two-year three-month jail term.

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