Reeled in after 35 years

The Dunedin courthouse. Photo: ODT files
The Dunedin courthouse. Photo: ODT files
Toni Douglas Parata was wanted by the law for nearly 35 years - he just didn't know it.

The 54-year-old was not the dangerous outlaw one might imagine, doggedly pursued by police while repeatedly slipping through from their clutches.

He is a labourer from Karitane.

When Parata appeared in the Dunedin District Court this week, he thought he was there to be sentenced on a charge of assault with intent to injure, following a punch-up outside a Waikouaiti tavern on August 1.

He was as flummoxed as anyone when Judge John Macdonald revealed there had been a warrant out for his arrest since 1986.

The charge?

Stealing a fishing rod, worth $95.

Parata said he had no recollection of the allegation and prosecutor Sergeant Chris George was similarly stumped.

He said the police file for the minor offence would have been "long gone" and promptly withdrew the charge.

Judge Macdonald said, aside from the historical warrant, Parata’s case was unremarkable.

He had been drinking at the Golden Fleece Hotel when he became "intoxicated and aggressive" and was encouraged to take the courtesy coach home.

However, when he saw a man leave the pub with his partner he flew into a rage.

Parata threw accusations at the victim then two punches which knocked him unconscious.

The man was laid out for 10 minutes and the defendant was so concerned about his welfare, he attempted mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, counsel Brendan Stephenson said.

The judge said the suffering had continued for the victim in the weeks after the attack.

Parata, the court heard, had six previous convictions for assault but the most recent was 12 years ago.

"I think I can treat this as an isolated incident," Judge Macdonald said.

A letter, written by the defendant, appeared to show remorse and the judge hoped he followed through with his words of contrition.

Parata was sentenced to nine months’ supervision, 200 hours’ community work and ordered to pay the victim $1000.








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