Despite suffering two stab wounds to the head Northland police dog Caesar bravely rallied to help his handler Constable Josh Van Der Kwaak arrest his attacker, a jury has heard.
Adam Tipene, a 31-year-old forestry worker from Onerahi, appeared in the Whangārei District Court on Monday, the first day of trial before a jury of eight women and four men.
Tipene has plead not guilty to charges of assaulting a police officer to avoid arrest while unlawfully taking a motor vehicle, failing to stop for police, entering a building in Parua Bay with intent to commit a crime with a knife, resisting a police officer and without lawful authority and without reasonable excuse intentionally wounding a police dog, unlawfully taking a $18,000 vehicle, and dangerous driving.
He plead guilty to a charge of unlawful interference with a 2009 Kawasaki motorcycle.
The charges relate to incidents on December 22, 2018 which included a police pursuit and then the burglary of a rural property where Caesar was stabbed.
Defence lawyer John Moroney said in a brief address to the jury Tipene was not the driver in the police pursuit, however, he did not dispute he was in the vehicle.
Tipene did not dispute he was in the house at Parua Bay and did not dispute he had stabbed the police dog.
"He (Tipene) is going to tell you why he stabbed the police dog in the circumstances that existed for him. The defence says he does have reasonable defence to the charge," Moroney said.
Crown solicitor Mike Smith said in his opening the dog and handler had confronted Tipene on a roof area of a house and Caesar had moved forward when he was stabbed in the head twice.
"He was not defending himself but looking to escape," Smith said.
Despite the injuries Caesar got back up and tried to help his handler who had tackled the man.
The jury would hear how vets shaved Caesar's head and inserted stitches to the wounds.
Smith said it was just after 2am when police were notified of a suspicious vehicle on Bank St in central Whangārei. The Crown says it was Tipene who was the driver and lead the police on a pursuit which ended when the stolen vehicle crashed off Owhiwa Rd, near Parua Bay.
Sergeant Conan Brown and another officer in a marked police vehicle were the first to respond and to the vehicle on Bank St. Giving evidence Brown said he pulled alongside the vehicle and made eye contact with a man who was out of the vehicle on the driver's side.
The man acknowledged the officer with a typical Northland head nod, but then got into the driver's seat and drove off.
Brown described the driver as a male Māori of medium build, in his late 20s, and at the time was wearing a dark cap which was pulled down low on his face, a light coloured T-shirt and shorts.
During the pursuit, which reached speeds of 140km/h, alcohol bottles were thrown out of the car, with one shattering and showering the police car with glass. On numerous occasions the driver of the fleeing vehicle stopped on blind corners and reversed towards the following police car in an attempt to ram it.
"It was touch and go as to whether it was going to impact with the front of the patrol vehicle. There was no doubt he was trying to ram us and immobilise us," Brown said.
Eventually the pursuit ended when the vehicle crashed off Owhiwa Rd on a hairpin bend.
Brown said he arrived to see the man he had earlier seen going over the bonnet of the vehicle and over a fence into a paddock. A female passenger remained in the vehicle.
Caesar and handler Van Der Kwaak tracked into dense bush but were unable to find the fleeing driver.
Hours later when both officers had finished their shift and were driving home they were alerted to a home invasion where a couple were house sitting on Owhiwa Rd, about 6am.
Brown said he had taken the long way home as he was concerned the man had evaded them earlier in the night.
"As a police officer you have a sense of responsibility to ensure people are safe. I wasn't comfortable going home knowing this man was in a rural isolated area. I wasn't happy to hang up my shoes and just go."
Arriving at the house where there was reports of a male intruder, Brown said he could hear the voice of a distressed dog handler.
"It was pretty haunting stuff to hear. I could hear him screaming at a male, who was also screaming, for him to get down on the ground and stop resisting arrest," Brown said.
"As soon as I arrived Josh yelled at me the dog had been stabbed. There was a lot of blood and I didn't know who it was from."
Brown and an occupant from the house managed to get the man on the ground and get him handcuffed.