Crime figure jailed for assault on 'daughter'

Petar Vitali initially claimed when arrested that the woman's injuries were from a suicide...
Petar Vitali initially claimed when arrested that the woman's injuries were from a suicide attempt but later admitted the assault. Photo / Paul Estcourt
Auckland crime figure Petar Vitali has been sentenced to five years and six months in prison for assaulting a young woman who believed she was his biological daughter.

Vitali appeared in the High Court at Auckland this morning, where his attack on Skye Mason was described as "detestable''.

The Herald today revealed that his victim is Skye Mason, the woman convicted of kidnapping Kaukapakapa toddler Alyssa Barker in July 2012.

The kidnapping came just two months after Mason was almost killed by Vitali in a violent assault at the Riverhead property where the pair lived.

The former gang member inflicted "prolonged and gratuitous'' violence on his victim during the attack, Justice Brendan Brown said.

Vitali pleaded guilty to assaulting Ms Mason after a row over cigarettes.

He repeatedly punched and kicked her before tying a belt around her neck and pulling it so tight he broke her jaw.

He took her over to a water-filled ice-box to wash the blood from her face but then held her head under the water. She managed to struggle free, and he took her into his caravan where she spent the night.

"The violence you inflicted upon your victim was extreme ... it was prolonged,'' Justice Brown said.

"You callously and gratuitously inflicted even more trauma by pushing her head under water while she tried to clean her face.

"This level of violence was calculated to inflict the maximum amount of terror upon your victim.''

Ms Mason declined to comment to media outside court, but her victim impact statement said she felt "deeply betrayed'' by the attack.

She has two metal plates in her jaw, still suffers from neck and back pain, and continues to have nightmares and flashbacks from the assault.

Mason described herself as being "broken'' physically, spiritually and emotionally.

"I was dead inside,'' she said in her statement.

The young woman suffered a breakdown shortly after the assault.

"I loved this man so much it broke my heart deeply to be treated this way by someone who means the world to me,'' she said.

Vitali, dressed in a blue shirt, sat in the dock with his hands in his lap throughout most of the sentencing. He gave Ms Mason a small wave as he was taken down after being handed the jail term, with a non-parole period of three years and six months.

- Patrice Dougan, Anna LeaskĀ