Man embedded flounder spear in thief's skull, court told

By Saskia Konyneburg -

A man embedded a flounder spear in the skull of a thief who had made "an unfortunate decision" to break into the car he had been travelling in, a court heard yesterday.

Sam Oliver Spence, 21, from Hikurangi appeared in the High Court at Whangarei charged with wounding Daniel Hill with reckless disregard on January 21 last year.

The prosecution alleges Mr Spence threw the metre-long spear at Mr Hill after recognising the car he was in.

Mr Hill had earlier broken into the Mitsubishi car Mr Spence had travelled in to Whale Bay, north-east of Whangarei, and stolen CDs, a mobile phone and a wallet. He was convicted of theft in June last year.

Defence lawyer Arthur Fairley said Mr Spence admitted throwing the spear at Mr Hill but denied doing it with reckless disregard for the safety of others.

Mr Hill, 30, required emergency surgery for a skull fracture and more than a month of rehabilitation at the brain injury unit of Waikato Hospital after being hit.

Giving evidence yesterday, he said he had been unaware the spear was embedded in his head.

"I didn't even really feel it. Justin just said 'you've got an arrow sticking out of your head bro'," he said.

Crown Prosecutor Anna Patterson asked the jury to put aside any disgust towards Mr Hill or sympathy for Mr Spence over the theft.

"I do not condone Daniel Hill's actions - but neither can we condone the actions of the accused, who took the law into his own hands," she said.

The court heard that Mr Hill had decided to break into the Mitsubishi car after driving to Whale Bay with his friend Justin Monk and a 5-year-old boy for a swim.

Ms Patterson said it was a "very unfortunate decision - not only because it was illegal, but also because of the physical consequences".

Ms Patterson said a member of the public watched the incident and left a note on the windscreen of the Mitsubishi car, giving the registration number and description of the offenders' car.

Later on, the two cars passed each other south of Matapouri and the driver of the Mitsubishi tried to block the car carrying Mr Hill from passing.

It was during this confrontation - as the car swerved to avoid capture - that the flounder spear was thrown, Ms Patterson said.

The metre-long spear travelled through the open window on the passenger's side of the car and embedded itself in Mr Hill's head.

Mr Hill told the court the car engine later blew and Mr Monk - who was wanted by police for breach of bail - fled the scene with the little boy.

Mr Fairley quizzed Mr Hill about a police statement he made eight days after the incident and an interview given to a Sunday newspaper, in which he said he had broken into the car to get money for P (methamphetamine).

Mr Hill denied the theft was for P money but admitted he couldn't remember everything because it had been a year and he had suffered a "traumatic brain injury".

The trial was due to continue today and is expected to last a week.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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