Gang teen admits coward's punch

By Staff Reporter editorial@age.co.nz -
11 comments
Three victims had no chance against surprise punches. PHOTO/FILE
Three victims had no chance against surprise punches. PHOTO/FILE

A Masterton man was yesterday convicted of three assaults in or near Wairarapa pubs in which the victims were knocked to the ground with an unexpected punch.

Wipuhara Kapene, 19, pleaded guilty in Masterton District Court to two counts of assault and one of injuring with intent to injure -- the last relating to a victim who was punched in the face without warning and knocked to the footpath, where he banged the back of his head.

According to a police summary, Kapene is a "well known patched Black Power gang member".

The first assault occurred in the early morning of July 24 last year at the Marquis of Normanby Hotel in Carterton. The victim and two friends were drinking at the hotel.

At about 12.25am, the victim went to the bathroom where there was a confrontation with Kapene.

About half an hour later, an associate of the victim approached Kapene to talk about the confrontation.

Kapene immediately walked over to the victim and punched him to the side of the head, causing him to fall heavily to the floor.

Kapene then left the hotel.

On Saturday, November 14, Kapene was seen by police at a party where disorder had been reported, and he appeared intoxicated.

Later that night at about 1.45am Sunday, Kapene was drinking at the Horse and Hound Bar in Masterton.

The first victim was outside in the smoking area, standing with friends, when Kapene approached and punched him in the side of the head.

The person "had no opportunity to anticipate or protect himself from the punch" and was knocked to the ground, police said.

At about 2.05am on the same night, a second man was walking from Jackson Street to Chapel Street to catch up with friends.

Kapene walked around the corner from Chapel Street and was about to walk past the man, but "at the last moment" stepped in front of him and punched him once to the face.

The victim was knocked unconscious as he fell to the ground.

He suffered a cut to the top of his head and a large bruise from hitting the footpath, as well as cuts and swelling to the face and a cut to the top lip which needed stitches.

Kapene was remanded on bail until June 1, at 9am, for sentencing. Judge Barbara Morris said Kapene should not take the granting of bail as any indication of sentence.

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