West Auckland bar attack: Shocking injuries to 'grossly outnumbered' victims

Author
John Weekes, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 20 May 2021, 7:48PM
The 28-year-old victim was hospitalised in critical condition following the attack. (Photo / Supplied)
The 28-year-old victim was hospitalised in critical condition following the attack. (Photo / Supplied)

West Auckland bar attack: Shocking injuries to 'grossly outnumbered' victims

Author
John Weekes, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 20 May 2021, 7:48PM

A bar worker in a vicious attack on customers walked away from the fight - but then chose to rejoin the brutal assault.

Auckland District Court heard Theo Mckewen Tagatoa, 39, now regretted the suffering he and other attackers caused.

One victim of the West Auckland bar brawl needed half his skull removed to relieve pressure on his brain.

Multiple people were charged after the November 2020 attack and Tagatoa pleaded guilty to assault and wounding with intent to injure.

At Tagatoa's sentencing today, Judge Russell Collins spoke of the heartbreak and anguish the attack had created.

"It just brings home to us as judges, if we had one wish, we'd be able to restore victims to the position they were in before the offending.

"But that, as everyone knows, is a totally unrealistic wish. We can't do that but it's the one wish we would all take if we had the chance," he added.

The court heard two customers at the bar were asked to leave and when they appeared not to vacate promptly, a brawl erupted.

Tagatoa took part in the initial violence, then removed himself from the melee, but rejoined the assault as the customers were brutalised.

"They were grossly outnumbered and had at times at least two if not more people assaulting them," Judge Collins added.

"You've engaged in the confrontation with the principal victim. He has been backing away from you... You've delivered a frightening blow which has knocked him to the ground."

One of the injured men had to be on life support in hospital for most of November and had faced the prospect of long-term disabilities.

His survival was miraculous, one of his loved ones previously told the Herald.

The injured man had been planning to attend his grandmother's 75th birthday later that day, with the colleague he went to the bar with.

Tagatoa's interim name suppression expired but the name of the bar is suppressed and some other people charged over the attack are still before the courts.

"You made a terrible, terrible error of judgment that had just tragic consequences for your victim," Judge Collins told Tagatoa.

It was fortunate the 28-year-old did not die, the judge added.

Judge Collins said he accepted Tagatoa was sincerely remorseful, had taken steps to get anger management treatment, and complied with curfew and bail conditions.

Tagatoa was sentenced to eight months home detention, a year of additional post-release conditions, 80 hours of community work and ordered to pay reparations.

The reparations total $1000, to be paid at $25 per week, starting one month from today.