Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

'Joke' community work sentence for man who beat, deafened wife

Jone Vuetaki has been sentenced to 130 hours of community work after beating his wife as she held their baby. Photo / Supplied
Jone Vuetaki has been sentenced to 130 hours of community work after beating his wife as she held their baby. Photo / Supplied

A man who beat his wife as she held their baby, hitting her so hard in the head that he deafened her, has been sentenced to just 130 hours of community work.

But he will likely be deported before he can complete the sentence, described as a "joke" by his victim.

Jone Vuetaki, 26, was sentenced to 130 hours of community work in the Timaru District Court on Tuesday for the vicious assault of his wife in November last year.

The Fiji-born meat worker denied the charge but was found guilty after a trial before Judge Joanna Maze.

When the Herald contacted Immigration New Zealand on Friday to see if the conviction had any bearing on Vuetaki staying in the country, it revealed he was here illegally.

"Immigration New Zealand can confirm that Jone Vuetaki has been unlawfully in New Zealand since March this year," a spokesman said.

"Vuetaki is liable for deportation, but INZ strongly encourages him to settle his affairs and make arrangements to leave the country as soon as possible by departing voluntarily."

Vuetaki's victim, his now ex-wife, said news of his deportation was "great" as it meant he would be out of her life and she would feel safe.

However it meant he faced no real punishment for his vicious crime.


The night of the assault Vuetaki and his wife had a verbal argument.

He then swung at her, hitting her hard on the left side of the face. She was holding the couple's 9-month-old daughter at the time.

If he had missed my head he would have hit her. It would have killed her, and that would have killed me.
Jone Vuetaki's victim

The woman, who asked not to be named, fell to the ground, and realised she could not hear. Her hearing was affected for some time after the assault.

At his trial the court heard that Vuetaki had been abusing his wife for "years".

The couple have since separated.

The woman was "devastated" to learn about his sentence this week.

"All he gets is a wee slap on the hands," she told the Herald.

"For him to only get 130 hours is cruel and devastating on me. For him to walk away with nothing when I went thought hell - it's not fair."

She said the nine months since the assault had been a struggle for her.

After she recovered from the physical injuries, she had to deal with the emotional pain. She also had to start her life over as a single mother.

She said the sentence was "a joke".

"Excuse the wording but it really is a slap in the face. I was devastated when I got the call," she said.

"It's a joke to me as the victim to have got though so much and for him to not get what he deserves. I would rather have done 130 hours of community work than go through what I have."

Victim advocate Ruth Money was appalled at Vuetaki's sentence.

This joke of a sentence simply serves to enable and grow New Zealand's notorious family violence epidemic.
Victim advocate Ruth Money

"It is no wonder that the victims of such violence in New Zealand have little faith in the system and are reluctant to report violence when offenders are given such nonsense sentences."

She said the courts needed to come down harder on perpetrators of family violence in order to make any difference.

"This disgraceful family violence behaviour is not deterred when some judges in New Zealand continue to make a mockery of the system and community that they are there to serve."

Family First national director Bob McCoskrie echoed Money's message.

"The judiciary needs to reflect the disdain the New Zealand public have for family violence by giving a sentence that reflects the seriousness of the crime," he said.

"In this case... there is also the aggravating issue that a baby was present during this particular altercation who could have easily been seriously harmed by the violence."
He said Vuetaki's sentence was inadequate, and he doubted whether it would have any real impact on the offender.

"Doing some community service simply doesn't communicate the seriousness of the situation.

We're never going to change the culture if we don't give a strong message to violent offenders.
Bob McCoskrie, Family First

"This is a weak sentence with a weak message," he said.

Family violence: We can, and must, do better than this NZ
Looking forward to a future without fear

Family violence incidents increasing
'Why don't women leave? We hope they will change'
'I will leave him - I'm saying right now I am better than this'

If you're in danger NOW:

• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours of friends to ring for you
• Run outside and head for where there are other people
• Scream for help so that your neighbours can hear you
• Take the children with you
• Don't stop to get anything else
• If you are being abused, remember it's not your fault. Violence is never okay

Where to go for help or more information:

• Women's Refuge: Free national crisisline operates 24/7 - 0800 REFUGE or 0800 733 843
• Shine, free national helpline 9am- 11pm every day - 0508 744 633
• It's Not Ok: Information line 0800 456 450
• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and Middle Eastern women and their children. Crisisline 24/7 0800 742 584
• Ministry of Justice:
• National Network of Stopping Violence:
• White Ribbon: Aiming to eliminate men's violence towards women, focusing this year on sexual violence and the issue of consent.

How to hide your visit

If you are reading this information on the Herald website and you're worried that someone using the same computer will find out what you've been looking at, you can follow the steps at the link here to hide your visit. Each of the websites above also have a section that outlines this process.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter


© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 27 Oct 2016 12:51:16 Processing Time: 565ms