Man who tried to kill neighbour says vicious assault 'a rush'

Moana Ufi, pictured at a sentencing in 2019. Photo: Rob Kidd
Moana Ufi, pictured at a sentencing in 2019. Photo: Rob Kidd
A Dunedin man who admitted he tried to kill his neighbour, later said the attack "felt amazing".

Moana Ufi, 24, was originally charged with attempted murder over the incident but later pleaded guilty to strangulation and assault with a weapon.

Justice Melanie Harland said the prolonged assault was an "extreme response" to the victim damaging the defendant's phone charger.

She said Ufi's comments to a Probation officer before sentencing were concerning.

"[You said] felt amazing, it was a rush and you felt stronger than you had ever felt," the judge said.

On May 11, the victim asked to borrow Ufi’s cell-phone charger.

When he refused, the man cut the cord, setting in motion an avalanche of violence.

The court heard Ufi followed the man into his room at the central Dunedin community-housing facility and took his anger out on a wooden dresser.

Ufi threw pieces of timber at the man until he was restrained by others.

However, he broke free and booted the victim in the chest, cornering him between a couch and bed as the man lay face down on the floor.

Ufi reached around his head and covered his nose with both hands to stop him breathing.

As the victim "wriggled" to escape, the defendant put his left arm around his neck and pushed down on the man’s head with his right.

The "choke-hold" rendered the victim unconscious and Ufi maintained his grip until he was dragged away by a witness.

Again, though, he was only held back momentarily.

He laid into the motionless victim, slamming a piece of wood into the back of his head.

Ufi vowed that he would stab the man as he was dragged away for the last time, and he maintained his position when police arrived.

He told officer he had wanted to kill the victim and was surprised he had not achieved his goal.

Ufi said he had used the timber to try to "crack the victim’s head open" but the wood had not been strong enough.

Justice Harland said the defendant had accrued an extensive list of violence and threatening-type convictions since 2017.

"What's clear to me is your violent offending is getting worse," she said.

However, she accepted Ufi had significant mental-health challenges and the violence in May came just hours before he was due his anti-psychotic medication.

Counsel Andrew Dawson said his client had a history of family abandonment.

"It seems his mother prioritised a relationship over caring for him when he was relatively young," he said.

That in turn had led to problems at school and issues with substances.

Justice Hardland imposed a prison sentence of two years eight months, a decision that seemed to find favour with Ufi.

"Yes, woooo," he yelled before he was led to the cells.