Early release for 'vicious' attack shocks victim's wife

Author
Otago Daily Times,
Section
National,
Publish Date
Friday, 28 December 2018, 9:39a.m.
Kahu Vincent and his wife, Jade, are focused on their lives rather than those of the men who attacked Mr Vincent in 2015. Photo / Supplied
Kahu Vincent and his wife, Jade, are focused on their lives rather than those of the men who attacked Mr Vincent in 2015. Photo / Supplied

A man involved in a "vicious, unprovoked attack" in a Wanaka shop has been released on parole with three and a-half years on his prison term left to serve.

Leon Rowles, 37, was sentenced to seven years and one month - reduced on appeal from eight years - after he and Ahu Stanley Taylor subjected Kahu Vincent to a brutal beating in a Night'n Day store on May 9, 2015.

Taylor was later convicted of attempted murder following a jury trial.

He delivered 23 single-foot stomps to Mr Vincent's head and on three occasions placed his hands on a shop bench either side of him and lifted himself up so as to be able to stomp on the victim with both feet at the same time.

Between them, Taylor and Rowles delivered about 81 blows.

The victim's wife, Jade Vincent, was "shocked" to hear of Rowles' early release.

She had not been told of the outcome until the Otago Daily Times contacted her earlier this week.

Mrs Vincent, though, said she and her husband did not dwell on the fate of the offenders.

"We kind of forget about them and live our lives," she said.

While Mr Vincent still suffered from fatigue and social anxiety, related to the severe head injuries he sustained, life was going well.

He had set up his own Gib-stopping business and the pair had got married this year.

Mr Vincent had needed an hour's nap between ceremony and reception but his wife was amazed by how he coped with the big day.

"Obviously he's not the same as he was before ... we're just happy he's alive," Mrs Vincent said.

Rowles came before the Parole Board last month for the first time.

While in prison, he had incurred no misconducts and he had progressed to living in self-care and going on approved shopping trips.

Panel convener Judge Edwin Paul highlighted the fact Rowles completed the six-month drug treatment programme as well as doing other alcohol and drug counselling and a grief programme.

He told the board that at the time of the attack, he had mixed benzos (tranquilisers) with alcohol.

"He has remained drug-free in prison and wishes to abstain from alcohol and drug use in the future," Judge Paul said.

Rowles had secured accommodation and employment as a plasterer.

Though his new home town was withheld, the board recommended he be transferred to Auckland Prison before his release.

"I just hope he's learned from it," Mrs Vincent said.

Rowles' conditions of parole are:

- Not to possess alcohol or non-prescription drugs.

- Not to communicate with Taylor.

- Not to contact the victim.

- To attend an alcohol and drug assessment and any treatment stemming from that.

- To live at an approved address.

- To abide by a 10pm-6am curfew for the first three months on parole.

- To notify probation officer of any change in employment status.

Taylor's first parole hearing will take place in May 2020.

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