A Tauranga man who whacked Merivale father Lance Scullin over the head with a piece of wooden fence paling the night before he died has been jailed for 12 months.

Mihaka Ratahi, 22, who earlier pleaded guilty to one charge each of assault with a blunt instrument, unlawful assembly, driving with an excess breath alcohol, and driving while forbidden, was sentenced in Tauranga District Court today.

He also was sentenced in relation to two charges of failing to furnish his details to police.

Read more: Scullin assault accused walks free


Ratahi attacked Mr Scullin outside his Kesteven Rd, Merivale home on November 30 last year after he came to the aid of another man involved in a confrontation with some gang members.

When Mr Scullin got in between the men he was punched in the face by one of the group and Ratahi ripped off a piece of fence paling and hit him over the head.

Mr Scullin suffered a bloody nose and bruising but there is no evidence the assault contributed to his death.

Mr Scullin was found dead in the backyard of his home the next day.

The driving offences were committed on December 14 last year and May 22 this year.

Ratahi has been disqualified from driving for six months, and on his release from prison
he will be subject to release conditions for six months.

He was convicted and discharged on the driving while forbidden charge.

Members of the Merivale community were shocked at the assault. Read more about the community impact here.