Jailed over threat to slit woman's throat

Last updated 11:13 27/05/2014

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A man who was Tasered by police as he tried to slit a woman's throat has been jailed for nearly seven years.

Unemployed Auckland grandfather Paul Haki Gemmell, 49, was sentenced in the High Court in Auckland today on several charges, including attempted murder.

After a day of drinking, Gemmell went to the woman's Glenfield home on the afternoon of September 27 last year.

He forced his way into the house, despite her protestations, and assaulted her.

She left the property, calling emergency services, but Gemmell followed her and dragged her back inside.

After positioning her on the couch, he grabbed a 25-centimetre carving knife and told her: "If the pigs turn up, I'll slit your throat."

Gemmell, who has a lengthy criminal record and links to the Mongrel Mob, continued the threats and told the woman he had "nothing to lose" as he held the blade to her neck.

As the incident escalated, Gemmell became increasingly agitated,fetching a bigger knife from the kitchen and telling the victim he would cut off her head and throw it out of the window.

Gemmell began to undress as the police arrived.

The woman tried to leave the house for the protection of the nearby officers but was pursued by Gemmell.

"The accused ran directly behind the complainant and while [they] were running he reached out, grabbing her ponytail with his left hand, with the knife extended in his right hand," the police summary said.

"He then drew the knife up to the direction of the complainant's head and neck area as a police officer fired a Taser that incapacitated him."

Justice John Faire said the evidence against Gemmell, which included Taser camera footage of the incident, was damning, but he discounted the sentence by 25 per cent for the early guilty plea.

Defence lawyer Kelly-Ann Stoikoff said "the alcohol and drug haze has now lifted" since her client had been in custody.

"He scared himself too . . . he didn't think at the time he was capable of that; that he was that out of control," she said.

Stoikoff said the fact that Gemmell was head of the laundry at his unit in Mt Eden Prison and had started an art class for other inmates showed a willingness to turn his life around.

Justice Faire told Gemmell: "Your statement at the restorative justice conference that the offending was 'five minutes of stupidity' minimises the offending and does not demonstrate genuine insight."

Gemmell was jailed for six years and nine months and will serve at least half of the sentence before being eligible for parole.

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