Judge throws out human shields accusations

Charges against a man accused of using his girlfriend and her one-year-old son as human shields against police pepper spray have been dismissed.

A hearing was held yesterday at the Waipukurau District Court, where two charges of aggravated assault were dismissed by Judge Bridget Mackintosh.

Zane Korari Mete Lewis, 22, had denied the allegations in relation to the April 8 Waipawa incident, but had earlier pleaded guilty to two further charges - one of resisting arrest, and another of escaping police custody.

Waipukurau Constable Shane Brooks said he went to the Waipawa address with a warrant to arrest Lewis on another matter. At the door, Lewis' girlfriend had told him Lewis was not at the address, and that she had not seen him for months.

On hearing a bump down the hallway, Mr Brooks had entered the house, following the women towards a dining room area where he found Lewis trying to hide behind a refrigerator.

On telling Lewis he was under arrest, Mr Brooks said Lewis had "squared off in front of me", his posture becoming aggressive.

Mr Brooks had got pepper spray out, at which point Lewis had darted into the lounge area where his girlfriend was holding the child. There was gap of between three or four metres between himself and the woman and child, said Mr Brooks.

In the lounge Mr Brooks said he had sprayed at Lewis but did not think it had worked, and he had sprayed again as Lewis ran behind the woman and child, but "stopped when he reached them - the spray carried on a bit".

At that point, the baby had started screaming and the couple had begun abusing him, and shut the door on him.

He had gone outside then went back in, but by the time he had reached the lounge, Lewis had escaped out a window, Mr Brooks said. He had chased Lewis along the street aiming an electroshock weapon at him, and a little way down the road Lewis had stopped, lain down on the road and was arrested. The baby was treated at the scene, and then taken to hospital.

Judge Bridget Mackintosh said she could not see how those actions could be connected to an assault on the woman and child, for which there was one charge each.

"The police allege the assault was an indirect application of force by using the woman and child as a shield. It's too remote - there is not the required connection," Judge Mackintosh said.

Lewis had also pleaded guilty to a charge of breaching a four-month home detention sentence imposed in October last year. He had already served two months of that sentence, which Judge Mackintosh cancelled, and re-imposed a total seven-month sentence on all matters.

He is due for release on July 20.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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