Dissatisfied with his meal, man told fast food worker he would shoot her

As far as overreactions go, it was a whopper.

On November 10, two days after being released from prison, 39-year-old Lionel James Apanui Tuwairua went to Burger King with a friend.

"I didn’t want to be in trouble. I just wanted a burger. I was hungry," he told the Dunedin District Court yesterday.

The reality played out a little differently.

Dissatisfied with the meal he received at the Andersons Bay Rd restaurant, a drunken Tuwairua approached the counter in a "highly agitated" state.

Even before he began pacing around and yelling abuse, staff had called police.

Tuwairua told the victim — a 28-year-old employee who was eight months’ pregnant — he would retrieve a shotgun from his car and "shoot the place up".

He told the woman he would blow her head off in the store, the court heard.

Tuwairua then decided he would help himself to a refund, reaching over the counter, attempting to gain access to the till.

When that proved unsuccessful, he left with his associate but yelled that he would return.

It was two days before police tracked Tuwairua down to a Fairfield address, but despite the time that had elapsed since the burger rage, the defendant remained belligerent.

When officers told him he was under arrest, he repeatedly claimed innocence, and when they tried to handcuff him he twisted his body to evade them.

A struggled ensued, during which Tuwairua "lashed out, kicking and biting", and his resistance was only overcome when police used a Taser and pepper spray.

It was not the defendant’s first experience of such treatment.

Six months earlier, police were called to a Dunedin boarding house after Tuwairua’s tenancy had been terminated and he reacted with similar fury.

After smashing holes in a wall he made extensive threats and pretended to shoot at officers with finger guns.

On that occasion he encouraged them to Taser him but was eventually subdued with pepper spray

Judge Josephine Bouchier yesterday said Tuwairua had now racked up 45 convictions for violence and threats.

She sentenced him to six months’ imprisonment on charges of threatening to kill, intimidation and resisting police.

Because of time spent locked up on remand, Tuwairua will be released next month.



Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter