Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Man who stabbed father in the eye gets sentence reduced

File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

A man who beat his father unconscious and then stabbed him in the eye with a boning knife has had his sentence reduced by one year.

Toa Rangatira Tuau was last April sentenced in the Hamilton District Court to five and a half years' imprisonment for the offending six months earlier.

His sentence was reduced to four and a half years' imprisonment.

According to a Court of Appeal decision, released today, Tuau first rendered his father unconscious with about 15 blows to the head. He then stabbed him in the left eye with a 27cm boning knife.

"Very fortunately" his father suffered no significant lasting injury.

On appeal, Tuau contended that sentencing judge Peter Spiller should have allowed him discounts on three related bases: that his father provoked him; that his father had assaulted him from an early age; and that on the day of his offence he was especially vulnerable as he suffers chronic paranoid schizophrenia and was then psychotic.

The court was told that Tuau, who was 30 at the time of the offending, was temporarily living at the family's Hamilton home with his father, then aged 50, and several of his 11 brothers and sisters.

His mother had recently died and the family was still coming to terms with their loss.

On October 3 the father, who had been drinking all day, came into the kitchen where Tuau was preparing dinner.

Tuau told the court his father accused him of being a molester; an aggressive accusation that he found very threatening.

He told police he had wanted to kill his father.

Judge Spiller reduced Tuau's sentence for his lack of previous convictions and previous good character, but he did not find that his father's conduct was "sufficient provocation in the legal sense, although what your father said made you angry".

After he was sentenced, Tuau told a clinical psychologist that his father had actually threatened him with a knife; thrown him across the kitchen; choked him; forced him to do press ups for hours at night; wielded an axe near his head; and rammed his head against a wall hard enough to damage the wall.

He described his home as being like a "horror movie".

The Court of Appeal found it was highly pertinent that Tuau's father had 11 previous convictions for assaults on his other children, for which he had previously been sentenced to two years' imprisonment.

"Mr Tuau himself, as a result of the abuse he had suffered at his father's hands from an early age, was hypervigilant and fearful, more especially because he was then in a psychotic state," its decision says.

"This sustained pattern of violence to which Mr Tuau's father admitted has to supply an objective basis for Mr Tuau's claim to have been assaulted in just those ways by his father."

- APNZ

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