A man has been sentenced to seven years and nine months' jail for attacking a stranger with an axe while gatecrashing strangers' late afternoon social drinks in Hastings last year.

Heath Aidan Gillies, 34, had denied charges including aggravated burglary and wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm but was found guilty at a trial.

In February co-offender Kupe Matenga was sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison having pleaded guilty to six charges resulting from the attack at a Riverslea Rd property on June 13 last year.

In Napier District Court today, with all of the victims present, Judge Tony Adeane said Gillies was the "principal" offender, having struck a man in the chest with the axe which one of the victims had grabbed in an attempt to defend the group in the attack.


Courts have been told Gillies and Matenga were walking past the address, where occupants were on a veranda having social drinks to welcome a new flatmate.

The axe used in the attack. Photo / File
The axe used in the attack. Photo / File

Both wearing gang patches, the pair exchanged words with the group, leapt the fence and began assaulting those present, including a woman.

Ultimately Gillies entered the house on the property chasing one of the occupants and attacked the man with the axe, which was embedded in the man's chest.

Judge Adeane described it as "everyone's worst nightmare", the combination of gang members who were unknown to the victims coming on to the property uninvited, arming themselves with weapons and launching an attack fuelled by the offenders' use of drugs.

After the sentencing Detective Sergeant Darren Pritchard said that although there were four complainants, eight people had been at the address when the attack started, and all would take some time to get over the trauma.

The most seriously injured had to be flown to Wellington Hospital for cardio specialist treatment, which Pritchard said highlighted the seriousness of the attack and the risk to life.

He said it had started with an exchange of "pleasantries" as Gillies and Matenga walked past the address, and escalated when they took exception to a response that was no more than continuing the greetings.

"It was a particularly nasty and unprovoked attack. It was a senseless attack on people who had every right to feel safe in their own home."