Lake guardian will appeal assault conviction

TO APPEAL: Philip Taueki.
TO APPEAL: Philip Taueki.

A Levin man will appeal an assault conviction related to an altercation at Lake Horowhenua on the basis witnesses lied at his trial.

Philip Taueki was convicted and discharged yesterday at the Levin District Court on one charge of assault.

Following a three-day judge-alone trial in July, Judge Bill Hastings found Taueki had thrown rocks at rower James Watson as he exited Lake Horowhenua on June 11 last year. 

One of the rocks struck Watson's leg, causing swelling and grazes.

Taueki was found not guilty of possessing a weapon as the judge accepted he was defending tribal land. That defence was not found to be applicable on the assault charge.

Taueki had claimed Watson and other rowers had trespassed on tribal land when launching their boat, and that he threw the rocks in self defence and to protect his land.

In court yesterday, Judge Stephanie Edwards told Taueki she could not accept his application to be discharged without conviction.

Instead she was prepared to convict and discharge Taueki because he had already spent more than a month in custody while he awaited trial.

Taueki, who represented himself at the trial with the aid of amicus curae (friend of the court) lawyer Simon Hewson, said from the dock he had proof witnesses at the trial had committed perjury.

He said he planned to appeal as he did not want a conviction blotting his record.

"I won't be accepting that your honour, they've committed perjury," he said. "The police knew they were lying. Last Sunday the rowers were there trespassing on the same land."

The judge said Taueki had the right to appeal after a conviction was entered and stood the matter down so Taueki could speak to Hewson.

Back in the dock more than  half an hour, later Taueki was convicted and discharged on the assault charge.

The judge said Taueki had already spent a month in prison on remand while he awaited trial. This was equivalent to a two-month prison sentence, which was at the top end of any sentence she would consider for an assault charge as minor as this.

Police had opposed a sentence of conviction and discharge.

Manawatu Standard