Porirua man's sentence for cutting woman's throat virtually already served
A Porirua man has been sentenced to three years and nine months' jail for cutting a pregnant woman's throat – prison time he has probably already served since the incident in May 2013.
Ruka Te Pono Hemopo, 51, was headed back had to jail after Thursday's sentencing but was expected to be released almost immediately having spent only a few months on bail in the past four years.
At a retrial in the High Court at Wellington, Hemopo was found guilty of wounding a woman with intent to injure her on May 2, 2013 when he cut her throat with a steak knife.
A doctor said the wound just missed the carotid artery and windpipe. She was 18 weeks pregnant, so particularly vulnerable, prosecutor Dale La Hood said.
A jury on Wednesday acquitted Hemopo of attempting to murder the woman, and wounding another woman with intent to cause grievous bodily harm when her elbow was smashed with a hammer. Hemopo said he did not use the hammer.
Police kicked in the door of the room where Hemopo was with the woman. He was shot and tasered when police believed he was attacking her with a weapon.
He said the woman was putting on an act when police arrived but Justice Rebecca Ellis said she accepted the woman was terrified and thought she was going to be killed.
There might well have been two deaths that day – the woman and her unborn child, the judge said.
The woman said the scar on her neck reminded her every day of what had happened.
Hemopo's sentence was reduced for mental health reasons. The judge told him he needed to look after himself, see a doctor and take any medication that was prescribed.
He also needed to listen if other people suggested he should see a doctor.
At Hemopo's first trial in 2014 he was found guilty of attempted murder by cutting the woman's throat and wounding the second woman with the hammer, but the Court of Appeal later ruled the case should be looked at again.
The identity of the women, and some evidence in the case, was suppressed.
An Independent Police Conduct Authority investigation found the police shooting and tasering was justified, and police did not break any laws.
Hemopo was injured in the shooting and was kept in hospital a day for treatment.