Assault discharge overturned

Tuesday September 19, 2017 Written by Published in Crime

A JP’s recent decision to discharge a 20-year old man without conviction on an assault charge has been overturned by Justice Patrick Keane.


Solicitor General David James successfully sought for the decision handed down in August by JP Bernice Manarangi on Tamati (Marsh) Mahia on a charge of common assault to be quashed.

During the Monday appeal hearing, Keane said a new charge would be laid against Mahia and the matter would appear before another JP. As the defendant is out of the country, Keane said the matter would have to “lie for the present”, although Mahia would have to be called at some point.

“It (the case) may have another life,” said Keane after delivering his decision and hearing submissions by James and defence counsel Norman George. The latter represented Mahia at the original August trial on August 10

Keane said JP Manarangi had discharged Mahia without conviction on a charge of common assault, said to have occurred on July 19. Mahia had pleaded guilty to the charge. The JP had done this in response to an application by George raising concerns about his clients’ age, that he had no previous convictions and intended to travel to Australia to find work. A conviction would have impacted on the defendant’s ability to gain employment in Australia, George had said during the first trial.

James said that during the July trial, the prosecuting senior sergeant had made an “enigmatic” statement, saying he would not take the liberty of commenting on the defence’s submissions. The court had therefore made a determination without input from prosecution on the defence arguments presented by George.

Keane said the JP had discharged Mahia after he had pleaded guilty to assault and the statement of facts provided by the prosecution had been read out.

The prosecution claimed the victim had been felled by a punch and then punched again while on the ground. Police claimed the defendant punched the victim three times. Despite pleading guilty, the defendant had denied delivering any punches, George saying his client admitted guilt only for rugby-tackling the victim to the ground.

George told the court that first instructions were that his client had never touched the complainant, but rather the defendant had been threatened by the complainant. The defendant had then tackled the 17-year old complainant in self-defence. The JP had accepted as fact in her decision that there had been no mention by prosecution of the victim allegedly suffering bruising or injuries, said Keane.

He also made the point that omitted in the summary of facts by police was the allegation of the victim being stabbed in the right leg. This was the only time allegations by the victim and his family that the minor had been stabbed was mentioned in Monday’s appeal case.

Keane said as Mahia had denied the punches, the JP was confronted with a submission by the defence counsel that was inconsistent with the guilty plea.

He said submissions about the defendant’s character, age and job prospects in Australia were secondary to the primary point of the assault and the guilty plea.

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