Attacker gets leave for son's tangi

TRACEY CHATTERTON
Last updated 05:00 07/11/2012

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Hawke's Bay

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A Hastings man who bit his girlfriend's cheek in a drunken attack was given a day's leave from prison to attend his son's tangi yesterday.

Joseph Tira Rangi, 30, punched his girlfriend in the face 12 times and bit her cheek so hard the skin was left flapping. He pleaded guilty to wounding with intent when he appeared in Hastings District Court yesterday.

Judge Heather Simpson granted him bail for the day to attend the funeral of his 15-year-old son Legeon, who died in Hawke's Bay Hospital this month. Rangi, who has been in custody since his arrest after the incident on September 11, was freed for seven hours into the custody of a local minister.

He and his girlfriend had been visiting Rangi's parents in Whanganui when he attacked her. That night, she helped break up a fight between Rangi and his father. Both men had been drinking heavily.

She sat in the car with Rangi and tried to calm him down. But he punched her in the face when she tried to take his drink from him.

She hit him back, so Rangi retaliated by punching her in the face at least 12 times.

His mother told her son to stop and went back into the house. Rangi ignored her, stuffing his girlfriend's scarf in her mouth and blocking her nose to stop her screaming.

The woman, who told police she feared for her life, bit Rangi's finger. He then bit her arm before latching on to her cheek and biting so hard that the skin was left flapping.

Rangi stopped the attack once he realised she was crying and bleeding. He apologised and tried to get her to go to bed with him, but she slept in the car.

The woman left the house the next morning. Her eye was swollen shut and she has been left with scars on her face and arm from being bitten.

Rangi will be sentenced next month.

Contact Tracey Chatterton
Hawke's Bay reporter
Email: tracey.chatterton@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @trackchatt

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