'I’m going to cut your f...... neck off'

Tawera Johnson has been jailed for more than five years after a vicious attack with a katana...
Tawera Johnson has been jailed for more than five years after a vicious attack with a katana sword. PHOTO: STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
A Dunedin man said he was acting in self-defence when he attacked a 19-year-old with a katana sword, leaving the younger man with permanent nerve damage to his face and hearing loss.

Tawera Johnson, 22, was sentenced in the Dunedin District Court last week to five years and one month’s imprisonment after pleading guilty to wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, injuring with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and threatening to kill.

The court heard that on September 3 the defendant was drinking in the Octagon.

At a taxi stand waiting to head home, three people were approached by Johnson who struck up a conversation. They had not previously met him.

All had been drinking, and Johnson was invited to join the group at a flat, which he did.

About 5am the group travelled to another person’s second-floor flat in a Dowling St building and continued drinking.

But when Johnson was seen huffing hairspray under his shirt, things became heated and he was asked to leave.

He did so without incident but remained in the area and contacted an associate to bring him his Japanese-style katana sword.

Once it was delivered to him, Johnson returned to the address and, using the intercom on the street door, asked for his vape, which he had left behind.

An occupant dropped it from the second-storey window to him, but the defendant remained on the intercom and challenged the victims to a fight.

When the victims arrived downstairs he took the sword from its sheath, held it up beside his head in a fighting stance and threatened: "I’m going to cut your f...... neck off" and "I’ll kill you c..., I don’t even care".

Despite the victims pleading for him to put down the sword, he swung it at them multiple times.

The first blow connected with one victim’s shoulder and left a laceration.

As that victim retreated, Johnson directed the sword at a second male, striking his face and causing a large gash from ear to cheekbone.

The wound caused scarring and nerve damage which meant loss of muscular movement around the man’s eye. Damage to his ear has caused him muffled hearing.

While Johnson said he was remorseful, Judge Michael Turner did not believe he was genuine.

He said Johnson’s explanation that he used the weapon to defend himself was "nonsense" — the offending was premeditated, not impulsive. Johnson had left without incident, then returned and acted out of anger.

Although this was Johnson’s first conviction, he told Probation he previously used the sword in a fight at Gore and would have known of potential consequences.

He was willing to address his issue with alcohol and attend a programme for violent offenders.