BECKIE WILSON

beckie.wilson@age.co.nz

Paul Cadwallader was “not a good neighbour”, but did not deserve to be hit with a punch that almost killed him, a court hearing was told on Tuesday.

The three-day trial of Puruata Nootai, 22, who pleaded not guilty to a charge of injuring by unlawful act, began on Tuesday in Masterton District Court.

Cadwallader, spent about three weeks in hospital, mostly in the Intensive Care Unit after the assault at an address on Masterton’s Clyde St on January 11 this year. He wasn’t expected to survive.

Prosecutor Sergeant Tom Andrews said that Puruata Nootai would have been charged with manslaughter if Cadwallader had died.

“To be frank, Cadwallader was not a good neighbour, he used offensive language and was inconsiderate,” he said.

Andrews told the hearing before Judge Peter Butler that on the day of the assault, there was a confrontation between Cadwallader and his neighbours.

But the result of the confrontation was “avoidable”.

The prosecutor said at the time of the confrontation, Puruata Nootai was some distance away and not under attack. He “had various options”.

Defence lawyer Ian Hard said Cadwallader was throwing racial slurs at Puruata Nootai and the family of his brother, Ross Nootai.

Hard said Puruata Nootai believed he needed to defend himself and his family.

“He felt the situation was dangerous … had he not done something, he didn’t know what was going to happen next.”

Witnesses told the court yesterday that Cadwallader was taunting the family by “egging them on” to fight and threatening them with a sharp object “to stick it in their throat”.

Robyn Copas, Cadwallader’s partner, told the court that since moving onto the street last year, there had been “tits and tats” between the two neighbours, but “nothing major”.

She said that at about 3pm on the day of the incident, she heard Cadwallader “joke” about the neighbours “saying something along the lines of, ‘I’m white and can be brown but you will always be brown’,” she said.

She said she yelled out to them to “cut it out” or she would call the police.

Cadwallader had told her “he wanted to have a fight” but she managed to stop him from leaving the house.

Shortly after, she found him lying on the driveway, unconscious.

“He had a lot of blood coming out of his nose,” Copas said as she began to cry recalling the scene.

She put him in the recovery position and called an ambulance.

Giving evidence, Ross Nootai said there had been a handful of “incidents” with Cadwallader.

He said Cadwallader had once threatened his family with a police baton.

When Andrews asked Ross Nootai why the police were not called, he replied he did not know why.

Ross Nootai said that on the day of the assault, Cadwallader came up to him, his brother and a friend, and said, “Do you want a fight, let’s go”.

Ross Nootai said his brother walked down the ramp the three were standing on, and Cadwallader walked onto his property.

After blocking two of Cadwallader’s punches, Puruata Nootai then punched him with his right hand.

Puruata Nootai then dragged Cadwallader back onto his driveway and walked away.

No witnesses disputed they saw Puruata Nootai punched Cadwallader.

Cadwallader did not attend court yesterday because of poor health.

The hearing continues.