More jail time for runaway prisoner

TRACEY CHATTERTON
Last updated 14:52 11/12/2012
Joseph Tira Rangi
Supplied
Joseph Tira Rangi.

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Hawke's Bay

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A prisoner who went on the run after he was freed to attend his son's funeral is facing more time behind bars.

Joseph Tira Rangi, 30, admitted last month to punching his girlfriend in the face 12 times and biting her cheek so hard the skin was left flapping.

Judge Heather Simpson granted him seven hours' bail to attend the funeral of his 15-year-old son Legeon in Napier later that day. Legeon died in Hawke's Bay Hospital last month.

Rangi was bailed into the custody of a local minister, John Flavell. He was due to return to Hawke's Bay Prison by 5pm but failed to do so. Police found Rangi more than 24 hours later.

Appearing in the Napier District Court this morning, Rangi was sentenced to two years and five months' imprisonment for wounding with intent.

He and his girlfriend had been visiting Rangi's parents in Whanganui when he attacked her. She was trying to calm Rangi down after he got into a drunken argument with his father. She tried to take his drink from him but he punched her in the face.

She hit him back, so Rangi retaliated by punching her in the face at least 12 times. His mother tried to stop the attack but Rangi ignored her. He stuffed his girlfriend's scarf in her mouth and blocked her nose to stop her screaming.

Judge Geoff Rea said the woman was running out of options so she bit Rangi on the finger. Rangi then started biting his girlfriend's arm. He realised it wasn't hurting her so he "latched onto" her right cheek. He bit down so hard the skin was left flapping.

Rangi stopped the attack only when his girlfriend was bloody, bruised and crying.

Judge Rea said it was a "brutal and sustained" attack which left the woman unrecognisable from the swelling to her face. She would likely have to live with the scar on her cheek for the rest of her life.

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

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