District Court News

It was only the findings of a restorative justice report that kept him from jailing a man for assaulting his partner, Judge Roberts said in Gisborne District Court.

After looking at the file for Rawiri Mitchell Morrell, 28, shearer, he had decided a prison term of 15 months was warranted, the judge said. In 2011, Morrell had received a final prison warning for similar offending.

But a report from the restorative justice process changed his mind.

Morrell pleaded guilty to assaulting a female, assault with intent to injure and breaching a protection order. He was sentenced instead to six months home detention with six months post-detention conditions.

The report noted Morrell’s determination to address his offending and the rehabilitative work he had done since.

Counsel Alison Bendall said Morrell and his partner had been living together again for the past five months without incident.

A second victim impact statement from the woman showed her attitude towards Morrell was now more positive.

The judge said Morrell was fortunate to have her support, which also played a part in his decision to step back from imposing imprisonment.

He noted that “long-suffering though she is”, the woman had now agreed to marry Morrell.

This assault was so unnecessary, the judge said. It stemmed from an argument about feeding a child and occurred in two phases over a day, with simmering tensions in between.

Morrell, described by the judge as being built like an All Black prop, punched his much slighter partner in the mouth, splitting the inside of her lip and causing her to stumble backwards. She was holding a baby.

Late that afternoon, Morrell’s father called in to see his grandchildren. Tensions were still high.

The complainant was on the porch. Morrell kicked her hard in the rib cage, winding her.

Their argument continued. As she bent down to put a DVD into a machine, he shoved her in the back causing her to fall forward. He punched her again in the face, lacerating her lip and causing her nose to bleed.

The breach charge related to Morrell’s later behaviour when he phoned the woman to say he was coming over and would kick the back door in if necessary.

Judge Roberts referred to the woman’s concerns expressed in her first victim impact statement nearer the time of the offending — her disbelief at Morrell striking her while she held the baby, that she did not feel safe and feared also for the children’s safety.

She felt he was unwilling to listen to her concerns and that his constant use of marijuana affected his ability to interact appropriately.

Her second statement was hopeful. She was willing to support him at counselling and said that despite his shortcomings, Morrell was a good father.

Ray Taunoa, the man who alluded police for months last year and who for about a week was feared drowned in the Wairoa River, has had another court appearance.

Since he was apprehended in November, Taunoa, 55, had entered not guilty pleas to domestic offences but some later driving charges, which arose in relation to his arrest, remained without plea.

At a case review hearing, Taunoa pleaded guilty to failing to stop. Police withdrew a charge of dangerous driving.

Taunoa also pleaded guilty to breaching bail.

He was further remanded in custody for hearings on two sets of domestic offences — both of which will be heard on June 20.

Counsel Manaaki Terekia said Taunoa would argue self-defence and protection of property.

The cases to be heard include allegations of injuring with intent to injure, assaulting a female, and breaching a protection order, including by loitering near the woman’s home.

A woman who tried to intervene to stop an assault, was herself punched in the face and knocked to the ground, the court was told.

Tei Te Morehua Mohi Kauia Wikiriwhi Mohi, 20, plasterer, changed a plea of not guilty to guilty of assault. He was sentenced to 80 hours community work (costs $130) and six months supervision.

The court heard both women were previously acquaintances of Mohi. He no longer had any contact. He had moved to Christchurch.

Mohi claimed he was so intoxicated at the time, he could not later recall the incident.

He no longer drank alcohol, he said.

He had initially been offered diversion, which would have required him to undergo counselling and apologise to the women.

A man admitted using his vehicle as a weapon to assault four people.

Nicholas George Smith, 45, also pleaded guilty to dangerous driving.

He was remanded in custody for sentence via AV-link on May 15.

Counsel Mark Sceats conceded that given Smith’s history, imprisonment would be the outcome.

The charge of using the vehicle as a weapon was made into a representative one after three other similar charges in respect of each complainant were withdrawn.

While on bail for a violent offence, a man committed three similar ones, the court was told.

He was granted further bail, pending sentence.

Sam John Dunstan-Elliott, 26, painter, pleaded guilty to assault with intent to injure, the charge for which he was on bail when further charges arose — assault with a weapon, threatening language, and assault (laid under the Crimes Act).

Judge Haamiora Raumati granted Dunstan-Elliott bail to await sentence on May 15 and for a restorative justice conference.

A pre-sentence report will assess the suitability of an electronically-monitored sentence.

Dunstan-Elliott’s partner was the complainant in the lead offence of assault with intent to injure.

It was only the findings of a restorative justice report that kept him from jailing a man for assaulting his partner, Judge Roberts said in Gisborne District Court.

After looking at the file for Rawiri Mitchell Morrell, 28, shearer, he had decided a prison term of 15 months was warranted, the judge said. In 2011, Morrell had received a final prison warning for similar offending.

But a report from the restorative justice process changed his mind.

Morrell pleaded guilty to assaulting a female, assault with intent to injure and breaching a protection order. He was sentenced instead to six months home detention with six months post-detention conditions.

The report noted Morrell’s determination to address his offending and the rehabilitative work he had done since.

Counsel Alison Bendall said Morrell and his partner had been living together again for the past five months without incident.

A second victim impact statement from the woman showed her attitude towards Morrell was now more positive.

The judge said Morrell was fortunate to have her support, which also played a part in his decision to step back from imposing imprisonment.

He noted that “long-suffering though she is”, the woman had now agreed to marry Morrell.

This assault was so unnecessary, the judge said. It stemmed from an argument about feeding a child and occurred in two phases over a day, with simmering tensions in between.

Morrell, described by the judge as being built like an All Black prop, punched his much slighter partner in the mouth, splitting the inside of her lip and causing her to stumble backwards. She was holding a baby.

Late that afternoon, Morrell’s father called in to see his grandchildren. Tensions were still high.

The complainant was on the porch. Morrell kicked her hard in the rib cage, winding her.

Their argument continued. As she bent down to put a DVD into a machine, he shoved her in the back causing her to fall forward. He punched her again in the face, lacerating her lip and causing her nose to bleed.

The breach charge related to Morrell’s later behaviour when he phoned the woman to say he was coming over and would kick the back door in if necessary.

Judge Roberts referred to the woman’s concerns expressed in her first victim impact statement nearer the time of the offending — her disbelief at Morrell striking her while she held the baby, that she did not feel safe and feared also for the children’s safety.

She felt he was unwilling to listen to her concerns and that his constant use of marijuana affected his ability to interact appropriately.

Her second statement was hopeful. She was willing to support him at counselling and said that despite his shortcomings, Morrell was a good father.

Ray Taunoa, the man who alluded police for months last year and who for about a week was feared drowned in the Wairoa River, has had another court appearance.

Since he was apprehended in November, Taunoa, 55, had entered not guilty pleas to domestic offences but some later driving charges, which arose in relation to his arrest, remained without plea.

At a case review hearing, Taunoa pleaded guilty to failing to stop. Police withdrew a charge of dangerous driving.

Taunoa also pleaded guilty to breaching bail.

He was further remanded in custody for hearings on two sets of domestic offences — both of which will be heard on June 20.

Counsel Manaaki Terekia said Taunoa would argue self-defence and protection of property.

The cases to be heard include allegations of injuring with intent to injure, assaulting a female, and breaching a protection order, including by loitering near the woman’s home.

A woman who tried to intervene to stop an assault, was herself punched in the face and knocked to the ground, the court was told.

Tei Te Morehua Mohi Kauia Wikiriwhi Mohi, 20, plasterer, changed a plea of not guilty to guilty of assault. He was sentenced to 80 hours community work (costs $130) and six months supervision.

The court heard both women were previously acquaintances of Mohi. He no longer had any contact. He had moved to Christchurch.

Mohi claimed he was so intoxicated at the time, he could not later recall the incident.

He no longer drank alcohol, he said.

He had initially been offered diversion, which would have required him to undergo counselling and apologise to the women.

A man admitted using his vehicle as a weapon to assault four people.

Nicholas George Smith, 45, also pleaded guilty to dangerous driving.

He was remanded in custody for sentence via AV-link on May 15.

Counsel Mark Sceats conceded that given Smith’s history, imprisonment would be the outcome.

The charge of using the vehicle as a weapon was made into a representative one after three other similar charges in respect of each complainant were withdrawn.

While on bail for a violent offence, a man committed three similar ones, the court was told.

He was granted further bail, pending sentence.

Sam John Dunstan-Elliott, 26, painter, pleaded guilty to assault with intent to injure, the charge for which he was on bail when further charges arose — assault with a weapon, threatening language, and assault (laid under the Crimes Act).

Judge Haamiora Raumati granted Dunstan-Elliott bail to await sentence on May 15 and for a restorative justice conference.

A pre-sentence report will assess the suitability of an electronically-monitored sentence.

Dunstan-Elliott’s partner was the complainant in the lead offence of assault with intent to injure.

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