Man found guilty in spade attack

By Corey Charlton

Police have praised the actions of a member of the public who alerted them to a domestic incident in which a man fractured his partner's skull with a spade.

Napier resident Andrew Tauira Whatarau, 42, hit his partner in the head with a spade twice in the early hours of April 22, 2012 in what he claimed was self-defence during a domestic argument.

This was rejected by a jury at the Napier District Court yesterday when he was found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm with intent after a two-day trial.

The victim, Whatarau's partner at the time, was taken to hospital with a 6-centimetre wound on the back of her head, bleeding around the brain and a fractured skull.

Hawke's Bay CIB detective constable Stacey Bailey said police were pleased with the verdict and praised the actions of the person that phoned police that night.

"It was serious domestic violence and it could have been worse," she said. "We could have been dealing with a homicide had the witness that gave evidence not contacted police."

She urged people who were aware of family violence to come forward, and said the victim was relieved with the verdict.

"It's been a long recovery process for her and it's still ongoing," Ms Bailey said.

Crown prosecutor Nicola Graham said Whatarau "lost his cool" and attacked his partner with the spade. He then left her lying in her own blood in his backyard until police arrived.

She was taken to hospital where she later awoke to be told she'd suffered a severe blow to the back of her head, she said.

Mrs Graham described the attack as the actions of an "incredibly angry and callous" man.

Whatarau maintained he had acted in self-defence after his partner tried to attack him with a tree branch. This was after she had repeatedly punched him when drunk at a party earlier that night and broken several windows at his property, he said.

He was remanded in custody. A sentencing date has yet to be set.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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