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Vicious attack lands teen behind bars

Last updated 05:00 25/01/2013

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An 18-year-old Invercargill teenager was yesterday jailed for his role in a serious assault in Russell Square last year.

Hetaraka Phillipson Heita, 18, appeared before Judge Michael Crosbie for causing grievous bodily harm to Martin Keen with intent to injure on October 28, and stealing $60 petrol from Caltex Savoy and receiving a scooter knowing it was stolen on October 26.

He was sentenced to two years and three months' jail.

Judge Crosbie said the victim had left a party, stopped at a dairy, and starting walking north along Elles Rd before entering Russell Square. While walking across the park he was attacked by three people, one of whom was Heita, who ran out of the bushes with clenched hands, he said.

The group began punching him around the head and body before Mr Keen swung a shopping bag at them, he said.

The group continued to kick and punch him, knocking him to the ground where he lay unconscious, Judge Crosbie said.

He suffered a broken nose, a fractured left eye socket, an injury to his chin, six lumps on his head, sore left triceps, back and ribs, he said.

Two members of the public heard his cries for help, ran to the scene and one of them yelled at the group to leave or he would call police. He called an ambulance and the other man approached the group and called them cowards. He was dealt with by another member of the group.

All three aggressors fled the scene. Heita admitted punching and kicking the main victim when spoken to by police, Judge Crosbie said.

Heita's lawyer, Mike Newell, said the offending occurred when Heita, who was 17 at the time, was drinking. He acknowledged the first punches were thrown by him.

Mr Newell said he believed Heita was genuinely remorseful.

Judge Crosbie said Heita had written a letter of apology to the victim and a letter to him saying he felt terrible for what he had done.

The attack was unprovoked and cowardly, Judge Crosbie said.

"Random unprovoked attacks by groups on others will be dealt with severely . . . the people of Invercargill are entitled to feel safe on the streets of the city."

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- The Southland Times

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