Adam Tipene decided it was time to plead guilty after hearing a police dog handler recount the vicious attack on his canine companion Caesar during a jury trial.

The 31-year-old, forestry worker from Onerahi, faced numerous charges stemming from a police pursuit and then a fight in which Tipene stabbed the police dog twice in the head on December 22, 2018.

Constable Josh Van Der Kwaak told the jury of eight women and four men in the Whangārei District Court yesterday how Tipene had been foaming at the mouth and had stabbed the newly qualified police dog in the head twice with a large kitchen knife while on the roof of a house on Owhiwa Rd, near Parua Bay.

After the officer finished giving his evidence on the third day of the trial Tipene, through his lawyer John Moroney, told the court he would be changing his pleas to guilty on seven charges.

Police dog Caesar and Constable Van Der Kwaak graduating as a police dog unit. Photo / Supplied
Police dog Caesar and Constable Van Der Kwaak graduating as a police dog unit. Photo / Supplied

Standing in the dock with his arms crossed the charges were read to him and to each he replied "guilty".

He admitted charges of without lawful authority and without reasonable excuse intentionally wounded a police dog, assaulted a police officer to avoid arrest while unlawfully taking a motor vehicle, failed to stop for police, entered a building in Parua Bay with intent to commit a crime with a knife, resisted a police officer, unlawfully took a $18,000 vehicle, and dangerous driving.

On Monday morning before the trial started he had plead guilty to a charge of unlawful interference with a 2009 Kawasaki motorcycle.

During the trial evidence was given by Sergeant Conan Brown about a police pursuit involving Tipene who was driving a stolen car and lead police on a chase from central Whangārei out to Owhiwa Rd before crashing and fleeing about 2am.

The dog unit was called in and tracked for about 45 minutes through steep terrain before losing the trail. About four hours later a 111 call came from a terrified woman at a house in Owhiwa Rd, who had been woken by an unknown man inside and was brandishing a knife and demanding $50,000.

Van Der Kwaak was called to the house and challenged Tipene to get on the ground or else he would release the dog. Tipene, who was on the roof, did not comply and Caesar was released.

Tipene then stabbed the dog in the head. After a violent struggle and with some help from the male occupant of the house Tipene was handcuffed.

There are five police dogs and handlers working in Northland including Van Der Kwaak and Caesar who made a full recovery after being stabbed.


Following the change of pleas Inspector Martin Ruth, who was in charge of the Northland police dog unit in 2018, said he was pleased the actions of the dog were totally justified.

"Dog handlers are a highly motivated group and are usually the first to be there at a critical incident. They serve as leaders in the field at the sharp end," Ruth said.

"Their skills are not easily obtained. The work that goes in behind the scenes to get them on the road is significant. The quality of animals and the training is improving al the time."

The case highlighted one of the many dangers that the dog teams confronted on the job but Northland was fortunate to be served by quality combinations.

He said not only were the dogs and their handlers supporting front line police staff they were called to a number of events in the community and were visiting schools in the region.

Judge John McDonald thanked the jury for their time and said it appeared Tipene had come to the view he didn't have a defence to the charges.

"It is to his credit, even though it is late, that he has plead guilty," Judge McDonald said.

Tipene was remanded in custody and will be sentenced in May.