* Warning, this story contains graphic content.
A man originally charged with attempting to murder a man in a machete attack in Napier will spend nearly ten years in jail for the life-threatening injuries he caused.
The 9 years and 5 months sentence was imposed on Lealofi Malasia, 28, of Napier, when he appeared before Justice Cheryl Gwyn in the High Court in Napier today.
With the Crown withdrawing the attempted murder prosecution as a trial was about to start in July, Malasia had pleaded guilty to the alternative charge of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, which carries a maximum possible penalty of 14 years' imprisonment.
Malasia had also admitted assaulting a man with intent to injure after an incident in a Hastings bar a week before the machete attack, and perjury for a false statement in a sworn affidavit applying for bail after his arrest.
The machete attack happened on September 15, 2018, after Malasia had been at a gathering in a shed on a suburban property in Napier.
With Covid-19 pandemic restrictions limiting the number of people in court today, nine members of the families involved, including the victim, were present as Justice Doogue outlined events of the night and those of the unarmed and unprovoked attack without warning a week earlier on a stranger who had shouted him a beer in a Hastings bar in return for a ride home.
On the night of the more serious incident, Malasia was at a Samoan community gathering to play pool, and had to be restrained, including being punched by his own brother, to stop his disrespecting and assailing of a matai, or Samoan chief, who was present, the Judge said.
With the issues apparently resolved, Malasia left and 30-60 minutes later got out of a car and across the road, and, armed with the machete and without speaking, attacked the victim,
There were at least five blows, including one to the chest and abdomen as the man lay badly injured on the pavement.
With Malasia having fled in the vehicle, the victim was discovered making his way up the driveway clutching his exposed intestines.
In court today, defence counsel Eric Forster accepted the use of a weapon showed a degree of premeditation and that the injuries could have been life-threatening.
Suggesting a judge's starting-point of nine years' jail, and uplifts including a minimal imposition for an Australian record of mainly lower-level violence, Forster said Malasia had "perceived a sleight" against him in the moments but had "latterly" accepted that "as far as sleights go it was not so significant."
Forster said the offending did not "fit well with how he comes across on a daily basis," and argued that there should be no minimum non-parole period, to enable the Parole Board to best assess when and how Malasia could be released.
Crown prosecutor Steve Manning, seeking a starting point of 11 years, said the victim was "literally" an innocent person in the wrong place at the wrong time, not involved in the issues at the part but walking out to be attacked by a person who had gone to get a weapon and returned to seek revenge by attacking anyone who came out.
Manning highlighted the severity of the attack, including a blow to the back of the head.
The guilty plea warranted some reduction but had to be put against the fact it had taken "some time to get here" and its relevance to the level of remorse which had been acclaimed.
The offending was "very serious" and the risk of serious reoffending by Malasia "must remain", he said.
Justice Gwyn noted a paramedic with 20 years' experience had said it was one of the most violent incidents that he had ever attended. The victim spent a month in the hospital, the first few days in a coma, and had ongoing issues with loss of earning potential, and fear of attending his community gatherings such as pool games.
Saying the defence and Crown positions on the starting point were respectively too low and too high, she started at 10 years 6 months, adding 12 months for the other offences and 3 months because of previous offending.
She then made deductions to recognise remorse and the guilty plea which alleviated the need for a trial. She declined to order a minimum non-parole period.