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Judge grants bail for man accused of strangulation

Despite strong police opposition, a man accused of strangulation has been granted bail in Masterton District Court.

The man, in his 20s, appeared via audiovisual link from Rimutaka Prison last week on drug and family violence charges.

A guilty plea to possessing methamphetamine was entered. However, he did not plead to additional charges of assault on a person in a family relationship, impeding breathing and blood circulation, and wilful damage relating to alleged offending earlier this month.

A further charge of possessing an offensive weapon was dropped.

The police prosecution argued against bail without electronic monitoring, claiming the proposed address was too close to the complainant for such serious offending.

“It’s the nature of the strangulation charge, and the distance. That is the issue.”

However, Judge Jan Kelly did not buy it and said keeping the man in jail for 10 days while an electronic monitoring application went through the system was “extreme”.

“[The address] is an hour and a half away from Masterton, that should be sufficient.

“He has his family here in support of him. He is entitled to the presumption of innocence.”

Judge Kelly said the man had been involved in previous incidents of family violence in 2020 and 2022. A police safety order was put in place, but no charges were laid.

She said the incidents involved the same complainant.

“My primary concern today is for the protection of the complainant.

“Police oppose bail. They say the complainant is fearful of you and has concerns for her safety and the safety of her child.”

She said the strangulation charge was serious offending and carried a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment.

Judge Kelly said as no pleas had yet been entered, the man was presumed innocent.

“I need to make it extremely clear to you, however, that if you breach any of your bail conditions … your bail will be opposed and you will be remanded in custody until the charges are resolved.”

The conditions included not entering the Wairarapa region unless to attend court, not to contact the complainant directly or indirectly and not to possess or consume non-prescribed drugs.

The additional condition of attending court with a family member was included at the request of police.

The man was remanded at large to reappear in court next month.

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