Accused lip biter's sanity key to trial

By Mike Dinsdale

A Northland man accused of biting off a Whangarei police officer's lower lip is likely to stand trial next year unless found to have been insane at the time.

Reo Rangipohewa Uerata, 29, faces charges of aggravated assault on police, driving while disqualified, wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and refusing to give a blood sample after being stopped by police on February 19, 2010.

When he appeared for callover in the High Court at Whangarei on Tuesday, Justice Paul Heath remanded him on bail until April 29, next year, as a back-up trial for that week. If the trial does not go ahead then, a firm fixture date has been set for September 9.

The reason for the lengthy delay in the case going to trial was because Uerata had earlier been declared mentally unfit to plead or stand trial. He had since been deemed fit to do so, but a recent psychiatric report commissioned by defence lawyer Doug Blaikie questioned that.

The Crown will get its own report done and the judge has given leave for the defence to vacate the trial dates if both sides agree Uerata has a defence of being insane at the time.

Uerata allegedly bit off a constable's lower lip when stopped at a Kamo checkpoint.

- Northern Advocate

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