James Henare Butler
Taranaki Daily News story 23rd August 2008
A man who seriously assaulted a Taranaki police officer has been jailed for six years. James Henare Butler, 20, appeared for sentence in the New Plymouth District Court yesterday, eight months after he and another offender attacked Sergeant Kevin Wellington near Egmont Village.
Butler had earlier admitted charges of aggravated wounding, unlawfully taking a vehicle, recklessly operating a vehicle and failing to stop. Butler's co-offender, Tim Henare James Junior Reid, 25, had already been sentenced to five year's jail in Wellington in May for his part in the attack. Butler and Reid had met in the cells of the Lower Hutt District Court on the morning of the December attack.
The pair were bailed and agreed to drive to Taranaki where Butler had a forestry job lined up. Mr Wellington clocked their car doing 143km/h and gave chase, but Reid kept driving until they crashed. When Mr Wellington got to the crash scene he was assaulted, firstly by Reid, and then seriously by Butler. After knocking the sergeant out, Butler continued to punch him in the head.
The pair then stole Mr Wellington's patrol car and, after another chase, they ran through a roadblock. Even with tyres blown by road spikes, they kept going until the tyres peeled off the rims. Both were arrested when the car finally stopped. Yesterday, Crown prosecutor James Gurnick said Butler had displayed extreme violence towards Mr Wellington, who had suffered a broken nose and severe bruising to his head.
The officer would not talk about the sentence yesterday. Mr Gurnick said the attack had had a major effect on Mr Wellington's family. "Police officers need to be safe from offending like this when they are carrying out their duty," he said. Defence counsel Julian Hannam took the opportunity on behalf of his client to apologise to Mr Wellington and his family for the "awful" decisions he made that day. In sentencing, Judge Ian Thomas condemned Butler's actions. "This was a cowardly and violent attack on a police officer," he said, as he told Butler he had shown a complete contempt for the law.
Date of Birth
Aggravated wounding of a policeman after driving dangerously in a stolen police car while escaping custody in December 2007
Assaulted his girlfriend with intent in Wellington in October 2007
Also drink driving, breaches of bail and community work
Sentenced to 13.5 months in March 2008
Sentenced to six years in August 2008
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OFFENCES / CONVICTIONS
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