Jury to decide if knife thrust cost woman her eye


A High Court jury in Napier is expected to decide today whether a man stabbed his girlfriend in an eye, which later had to be removed.

In a trial which started on Monday, Sio Muliipu, 24, of Hastings, pleaded not guilty to nine charges, including wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, which carries a maximum possible sentence of 14 years in jail.

Muliipu denies pulling the woman back by the hair, flashing a knife and threatening to kill her as the wound was inflicted, claiming in court the cut was caused as he threw a range of toys at her and she was possibly struck by a metal truck.

Those claims were challenged by Napier opthalmologist Phillip MacDonald, who said the cut was clean, as if surgical, that it must have been caused by a sharp blade, and he was not aware of any way it could have been caused by an item being thrown.

In a closing address yesterday, Crown prosecutor Jo Rielly said Muliipu previously made other claims about how the injury occurred.

The incident took place in a Raureka house, where the woman said she was barricaded on the night of last December 5, after Muliipu and brother Time Finai Muliipu, 26, allegedly abducted her from another house in Hastings.

Both men have pleaded not guilty to a charge of kidnapping, but while admitting injuring the young mother with intent to injure her, Sio Muliipu denied entering the alleged kidnapping scene with intent to commit a crime, assaulting the woman with intent to injure her in a vehicle soon afterwards, and unlawfully detaining her for the rest of the night.

He also pleaded not guilty to charges of assaulting her with a vacuum cleaner on November 20, and assaulting her with intent to injure in an episode of alleged hair-pulling and elbowing to the head on November 24.

Two other charges against him, and one against his brother, were dismissed at the end of prosecution evidence.

The jury was told the events happened during a time of increasing stress after the woman had been told by authorities the couple's infant twins would be taken from her if she stayed with Muliipu.

The woman and the twins, who turned a year old this week, left Hawke's Bay, but returned after Muliipu threatened suicide, and she placed the children with his sister while they tried to sort out issues, including Muliipu's drinking.

The woman said that after authorities removed the children, the events of November 24 unfolded after a day of drinking, and she went to the police.

Knowing he was wanted by police, Muliipu maintained contact with the woman, leading to the events of December 5, as he and his brother went to a house where she was staying.

While others said Sio Muliipu dragged her from the house, he claimed she went willingly, and denied punching her in a vehicle as they left and barricading her with him in a bedroom at a Raureka house, where the eye wound was inflicted, and where she remained with him until police arrived next day.

Asked by Mrs Rielly if he was angry when he pulled the woman's head back, showed her a knife and threatened to kill her, he said: "None of that happened."

To a suggestion he was angry and stabbed her in the eye deliberately, he said: "It wasn't like that. She knows that."

Claiming she could have left if she wanted, he said he gave her two "Panadols" for the pain and put extra blankets over her because she was cold.

Suggesting the woman had been too scared to leave, Mrs Rielly said: "I put it to you, you commit serious violence to get your own way."

"Well, look at me. I'm a gang member," Muliipu replied, adding he didn't want to lie.

Mrs Rielly said Muliipu's explanation of how the eye injury was caused was "implausible," while defence counsel Eric Forster said the woman wasn't clear what happened and the Crown hadn't ruled out the other possibilities.

Time Muliipu's only involvement, according to counsel Roger Phillip, was to go the house where the woman was staying, and there was evidence he had encouraged his brother to leave her alone and leave the address.

Trial judge Justice David Collins will sum up before the jury retires before midday.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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