Two brothers have been jailed for a brutal axe attack against two Korean fishermen, one telling the other during the violence, "let's finish 'em off".

The Herald can also reveal the unprovoked assault came while the younger brother was on parole, after spending nearly a decade behind bars for terrorising tourists during a crime spree across the North Island.

Shaun David Austin, 36, and Robert Eric Austin, 39, were sentenced today in the Auckland District Court for savagely beating the fishermen at the Ti Point Wharf near Leigh on April 1, 2015.

The Korean men, both Auckland-based pharmacists, had driven their new car to one of their favourite spots for some night fishing the evening prior. The Austin brothers were also nearby at the wharf, around 80km north of Auckland.


As the night progressed, one of the Korean men, Jaehu Kim, went back to his car for a nap but was woken in the early hours of the morning by a knocking on the window.

The man tapping on the window was Shaun, who told Kim that his mate, Byong Joo Lee, had caught a fish.

After checking on his friend, Kim returned to the car to continue sleeping, while the Austin brothers decided to leave.

However, as the brothers drove past the sleeping man they stopped and Shaun leapt from the car, clutching an axe.

This time, however, he told Kim to hand over his keys and wallet, the court heard.

Shaun Austin used an axe during the attack on two Korean fishermen. Photo / NZ Police
Shaun Austin used an axe during the attack on two Korean fishermen. Photo / NZ Police

When Kim refused, Shaun dragged him from his car and began punching and kicking his head.

Shaun tried to steal the car, but when he reversed it at some speed he crashed it into another parked vehicle.

As Lee came to the aid of his friend, Robert joined the attack and prevented any intervention while his brother continued to land more blows.


After several hits, Shaun used the axe and delivered a sickening strike to Kim's head with the back of the weapon.

Kim lost consciousness, while Lee managed to wrestle the axe away and throw it in the water, the court heard.

Shaun then uttered to his brother, "let's finish 'em off", but Robert insisted they flee the scene.

"Those words normally imply, let's complete the job," Judge Charles Blackie said at sentencing.

"Fortunately wiser counsel prevailed and that was you, Mr Robert Austin," he added.

The brothers escaped and would go on the run from police.

Kim was found lying on nearby rocks, badly beaten and in a "bloody mess", but with no memory of how he got there.

Fortunately it was a low tide, Judge Blackie said.

"There was blood everywhere, on the ground, on the cars, on the trail all the way down to those rocks," he said.

Robert Austin has 15 previous convictions for violence-related offending. Photo / NZ Police
Robert Austin has 15 previous convictions for violence-related offending. Photo / NZ Police

When the Austin brothers were later caught by police they denied any involvement in the attacks, eventually sending the case to trial.

However, prior to trial Shaun again fled the law, delaying the court process for some six months as police attempted to find him.

He said his absence was due to the death of his father.

The jury trial finally began last month with both brothers again pleading their innocence.

Shaun also tried to have his defence counsel persuade the judge to prevent photos of Kim's wounds from being shown to the jury, saying they were "too gruesome".

He also attempted to shift the blame to his brother.

The jury, however, found Shaun guilty of aggravated robbery, wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and injuring with intent to injure.

Robert was found guilty of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and injuring with intent to injure.

"You couldn't have cared less, you just got in your car and drove off," Judge Blackie said when sentencing the brothers.

He added that it was pure "luck" that the attack on Kim was not fatal.

"The use of an axe to a perfectly innocent individual ... [you left] him bashed and bleeding and in a remote location, away from any early possible help," the judge said.

In a victim impact statement, Kim said he suffers ongoing and constant headaches from the attack.

He also said he has "very vivid and traumatising nightmares".

The men no longer return to the scene of the crime - previously a favourite fishing location.

Both heavily tattooed, the Austin brothers stood in the dock, shifting their weight and scanning the courtroom today.

Shaun was permitted to sit for parts of the sentencing because he was unwell.

Judge Blackie jailed Shaun for 11 years, while Robert was sentenced to six and a half years in prison.

Both men were also sentenced to two years' imprisonment, to be served concurrently, for the injuring with intent to injure charges.

As the brothers were led away to the cells a supporter of Shaun's yelled at Judge Blackie, "you got it wrong, mate! Robert Austin is the f****** one that's done it!"

Shaun Austin's history of 'terror'

The Herald can also reveal that Shaun had only just been released from prison at the time of the Ti Point attack.

He was one of four men jailed for 10 years in February 2005 for a violent crime spree against tourists to repay drug debts.

The group of thugs threatened and attacked their victims, using crowbars to smash the windows of tourists' vehicles.

After robbing the holidaymakers, the group would slash their tyres to prevent them from going for help.

Shaun attacked and robbed a Wellington man who had parked his car in a rest area at Okere Falls, near Rotorua, and also attacked and robbed two foreign tourists in Tongariro National Park.

One of the victims likened it to a "commando raid".

In another attack he targeted a British tourist and his then 12-year-old son who were asleep in their campervan in the Athenree Gorge, near Katikati.

During the group's sentencing, Judge Phillip Cooper said the "terror attacks" had a profound effect on the victims, who suffered ongoing physical and emotional trauma.

Shaun unsuccessfully appealed his 10-year jail term in October 2005.

However, just a matter of months after being released from prison and while still on parole, Shaun attacked the Korean fishermen.

Robert also has several other convictions, 15 of which are for violence.