30 May 2013

Man discharged on count of injuring police dog

5:49 pm on 30 May 2013

A judge has ruled that it would be impossible for a jury to convict a man accused of injuring a police dog.

Paul Te Hiko, 35, was before a jury in the Wellington District Court on Thursday charged with intentionally injuring the dog and possession of an offensive weapon.

In February 2012, a police dog and handler tracked the 35-year-old to a bush area near Wainuiomata in Lower Hutt following a domestic disturbance at his home.

Mr Te Hiko kept moving after being warned that the dog would be set on him and when it ran towards him, the court was told, he placed the animal in a choke-hold and began striking it in the chest.

The dog's handler, Constable Stewart Rota, said he broke his hand while punching the accused in the head to make him let go of the animal.

The defence raised the issue of self-defence and Judge Bruce Davidson said the dog was a lethal weapon and, in his view, some use of force by the accused was justified.

Judge Davidson discharged Mr Te Hiko on the injuring charge and imposed a nine-month suspended sentence after a guilty plea on the weapon charge.