A Northland man who bashed his brother over the head with a plank of wood fracturing his skull has had his jail sentenced reduced by 14 months.

Wharepouri Heke was arguing with his brother James Heke over the ongoing care of their elderly mother after her release from hospital when the fight took place on September 4 in 2015.

Following a jury trial in Kaikohe Heke was convicted on one charge of causing grievous bodily harm. Judge John McDonald sentenced Heke to eight years' jail.

Heke appealed the sentence on the grounds he was denied a fair trial as a result of being refused the right to consult a lawyer at the start of the trial and that there was a string of errors during the trial.


The Court of Appeal released a decision last month in which they decided to quash the eight-year jail term and substitute it with a sentence of six years' and 10 months' imprisonment and considered the sentence imposed was manifestly excessive.

The court heard Heke was 51 when the attack happened and for 20 years had been the primary caregiver for his elderly mother. However, there was a disagreement among the siblings.

During an argument Heke picked up a piece of wood and hit James over the head, who fell to the ground and did not move. The attack was caught on cellphone by two people at the property.

Heke said he had been acting in self-defence and has used reasonable force and he did not intend to inflict such serious harm on his brother.

Heke appealed the sentence on the grounds he was not represented at trial. The court heard how Heke had on the first day of the trial had unsuccessfully applied for an adjournment to organise a private lawyer.

It was noted that legal services had previously appointed five lawyers to represent Heke and would not appoint a sixth. The Court of Appeal did not consider Judge McDonald had erred in refusing to adjourn the trial.

And while there were some errors during the trial, they were satisfied that it was fair.