Man sentenced for supermarket carpark rage

By Sandra Conchie of the Bay of Plenty Times -
People saw the incident and chose to drive by. Photo / Thinkstock
People saw the incident and chose to drive by. Photo / Thinkstock

A man assaulted a woman in a terrifying road-rage ordeal in a supermarket carpark and people drove past without stopping to help her.

The details of Heremaia Rahiri's attack, in which he grabbed his victim around the neck, pulled her from her car, slammed her against the vehicle and yelled obscenities at her, were revealed yesterday.

The 43-year-old man from Otumoetai earlier admitted charges of assault and driving with an excess breath alcohol (third or subsequent offence) and appeared for sentence in Tauranga District Court.

He was jailed for three months, and disqualified for one year and one day. Once freed, Rahiri will undertake counselling for six months.

The assault occurred at Pak'n Save on Cameron Rd on December 12, 2011 after Rahiri believed the woman had followed him into the carpark too closely.

Police caught Rahiri in 11th Avenue and he recorded a breath-alcohol reading of 678 micrograms, at least 1 times the adult legal limit.

This was his fifth conviction for drink-driving.

Rahiri had written a letter of apology to his victim.

His lawyer, Michael Dorset, said: "Mr Rahiri unreservedly and unequivocally apologises for his actions. He understands nothing good can be said about what he did and again apologises to his victim."

Rahiri's victim, who spoke to the Bay of Plenty Times on the condition she was not identified, was upset to learn her attacker had gone to prison.

The victim, left with big marks around her neck and back spasms from the assault, said she told police at the time she did not want Rahiri punished as clearly "something was not quite right with him" .

She said she still believed today that he needed help more than punishment.

"I would much rather he had been given home detention and get the professional help he clearly needs for his psychological problems."

The woman said she was not minimising what happened to her as the assault was serious and terrifying and if it had been a more prolonged attack Rahiri could easily have snapped her neck.

"When he approached me I thought maybe he had seen something dangling from my car or one of my lights was out, but he just suddenly snapped. He just flipped out for some reason.

"He just grabbed me around the neck and slammed me against my car and was ranting and raving at me and calling me all the names under the sun. He was telling me he was going to deal to me.

"At the time I was really scared and I couldn't understand why he was doing this to me, and thought he may have mistaken me for someone else."

"It only went on for about a minute or two but it felt much longer. He then released me and went back to his car and I thought he was coming back with a weapon so I jumped into my car, locked the door and called police on my cellphone."

She said what made matters worse was no one helped her. Other shoppers drove past, including a woman who deliberately drove around them.

It is the second serious attack at the supermarket.

Troy Daniel Somers, then aged 21, struck a 69-year-old man with a softball bat in the underground carpark on May 19 and received 250 hours' community service.

The case is also the latest road-rage attack in the Bay.

In December 21, 2011, Zane Tani Courtney, 21, was jailed 18 months for running over two teenagers in Welcome Bay after they laughed when his car would not start.

In August 2010, Katikati's Robert Devlin, 20, was jailed 20 months after bashing a man unconscious in Katikati.

On June 9, 2010, Beau Arthur Clark, 19, was sentenced to 80 hours' community work after attacking an off-duty police officer who overtook him in Katikati.

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