A Kerikeri real estate agent has been charged with assaulting the Far North's top cop in a horrendous case of mistaken identity.
The assault occurred in a Paihia restaurant while the officer was off duty and having a meal with his daughter.
Kevin Lloyd, 27, appeared in the Kaikohe District Court on April 20 charged with assault with intent to injure.
According to court documents the man he assaulted was Roderick Whiu - better known as Far North Area Commander Inspector Riki Whiu.
Whiu has had the Far North's top police job for the past five years.
Lloyd, an agent with Mike Pero Real Estate in Kerikeri, did not want to comment when contacted by the Northern Advocate.
He did, however, confirm the incident was a result of mistaken identity.
He said he had owned up as soon as he realised his mistake and pleaded guilty at his first court appearance.
He is due to be sentenced later this month.
The assault occurred on the evening of April 16.
The circumstances behind the assault have yet to be confirmed but it is believed Lloyd mistook Whiu for a man who had assaulted a friend in Paihia some time earlier.
According to a profile on his real estate web page, Lloyd spent seven years in the Navy before moving back to Kerikeri for the outdoor lifestyle.
Travelling around the world and serving in the Navy taught him many valuable skills that transferred well into real estate, the website states.
The last time Lloyd featured in the Advocate was when he was bitten by a shark while spearfishing off the Cavalli Islands in 2018.
The then 24-year-old had just speared a kingfish when a 2m mako shark ''came out of nowhere'' and latched on to his leg.
He freed himself by repeatedly stabbing the shark in the head while his diving companion held on to its tail. In the process Lloyd was also bitten on the hand.
The spearfishers, and their kingfish, made it back to the boat which was about 200m away.
Ironically, the assault on Whiu comes amid heightened public concern about crime in Paihia and the lack of a permanent police presence in the tourist town.
About 180 people attended a public meeting on April 1 organised by Paihia resident Morgan Pollock, who called for full-time staffing of the town's police station.
The station is still used but has not been permanently staffed since police switched to a 24-hour roster across the Mid North in 2018. Officers now start their shifts at Kaikohe or Kerikeri.
The station is currently staffed three days a week as part of a two-month trial.
The public meeting was fronted by Inspector Chris McLellan, who was filling in for Whiu while he was on leave.
McLellan defended the policing model currently operating across the Mid North, saying it was based on evidence and ''putting police in the right place at the right time''.