Father-of-five sentenced for ‘rough justice’

After a young man he knew took his car, sold it, and cleaned out his child’s savings for drugs purchases, Tumahana John Ponga administered some rough justice.

Forty-five-year-old father-of-five Ponga punched the young man at a house, and then “took it outside” where he punched him several more times.

The 20-year-old assault victim received soft tissue damage to his face and a broken nose, and Ponga has been held in custody since March.

He admitted charges of intentionally injuring the young man, and his own partner in a separate incident.

Christchurch District Court Judge Raoul Neave today imposed a sentence which will see him released straight away since he has served the equivalent of an 18-month prison term in custody on remand.

He now faces a sentence of 100 hours of community work and two years of intensive supervision. Judge Neave will get regular reports on his progress during that time.

Defence counsel April Kelland said Ponga had used his time on remand well to do a Stopping Violence programme, first aid course, and courses to develop other skills.

She handed up letters from both victims, who Judge Neave said showed “a significant degree of forgiveness”. The young man acknowledged his own role in the incident, which resulted in him being found injured in the Hororata Domain a year ago.

Mrs Kelland told the court the 20-year-old had been well treated by Ponga, but had taken Ponga’s car without permission, drove it into the city to get drugs and had sold the car.

He had then used bank cards to clean money out of the family’s account, including money from Ponga’s son’s holiday work and his birthday money. The money was gone.

As a father of five, Ponga “did not have a lot to come and go on” anyway, she said. Ponga then assaulted the younger man.

Judge Neave said that assault involved Ponga taking the law into his own hands, which was “always treated severely”.

In the other incident, Ponga squeezed his partner’s throat for about five seconds at a party when she tried to pull him away from a dispute. As they drove home, he grabbed her by the hair and punched her, breaking her jaw. She needed surgery to insert five plates.

He noted Ponga’s history included two aggravated robberies in the 1990s, but little offending since then. He had done considerable work in the community and it was a pity that his latest offending made him utterly unsuitable as a role model for young men.