Throat-slasher pleads guilty

SASHA BORISSENKO
Last updated 13:10 19/03/2014

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A man has pleaded guilty to slitting a man's throat onboard a fishing boat at Nelson.

Deckhand Joseph Koro Tapahe Lewis, 30, admitted wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, along with other charges relating to assaulting a female and failing to comply with court orders when he appeared in the Nelson District Court yesterday.

Prosecutor Ruth Thomas told the court that on February 7 at 3am, Lewis entered a wheelhouse where the victim was sitting in the captain's chair and talking to his wife back in Indonesia on his cellphone.

Lewis struck up a conversation with the victim about a car and showed him a picture of it on his cellphone.

The victim turned around to continue to talk to his wife when Lewis suddenly placed his hand across the victim's face covering his mouth and nose and used his other hand to slash the victims's neck with a fishing knife, Thomas said.

The victim placed his hand on his wounds to stop the extensive bleeding and turned to look at Lewis, before Lewis stabbed him twice more in the chest and abdomen, which caused his left lung to collapse.

The victim stood up and began yelling to the other sleeping crew members who applied first aid before contacting emergency services, port security and the vessel's manager.

Meanwhile, Lewis jumped off the vessel and hid on the rock seawall underneath the wharf before police arrived at the scene.

Lewis soon surrendered to police and told them he "broke the law" and admitted to injuring and stabbing the victim with a knife, Thomas said.

The victim remained in Nelson Hospital for eight days and required a further four weeks of recuperation.

Defence counsel Mark Dollimore said his client was really remorseful and wanted to give the victim a letter of apology.

Alcohol and drugs were an issue, he said.

Judge Richard Russell ordered Lewis to be remanded in custody.

He also ordered a psychiatric assessment and a pre sentencing report be completed in the lead up to sentencing on April 29.

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- Nelson

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