Man found not guilty of disfiguring partner

A Clinton man has been found not guilty of punching his partner's teeth out.

Rashard Dwaun Magee (41) denied charges of disfiguring with intent to injure and breaching a protection order at the outset of his Dunedin District Court trial this week.

A jury of seven women and five men returned not guilty verdicts yesterday, leaving the defendant trembling and crying in the dock before Judge Michael Crosbie dismissed him.

He had spent several months behind bars awaiting the trial.

The defence case was that the man's partner of five years, Leana Bonney-Eru (31), had actually been the attacker
and had bitten down hard on his thumb while he tried to block her punches.

When Magee ''yanked'' his hand out of her mouth, he said he pulled out the three teeth from her bottom jaw.

Ms Bonney-Eru said August 20 was the anniversary of her grandfather's death which she was commemorating by having some drinks with her sister and her family.

When Magee got home from work, she said, he was unimpressed with the amount of alcohol remaining and the couple clashed throughout the evening.

Eventually, he went to leave the address in his car, she told the court.

Ms Bonney-Eru claimed she followed to stop him because she believed he was intoxicated.

As he reversed, she said, she hung on to the vehicle's roof rack while trying to pull the keys from the ignition.

But she said she lost her balance and got her wrist stuck on top the car.

When Magee left the driver's seat ''there was no delay'', she described.

''I thought he was going to help me get up ... It was like he just knew exactly what he wanted to do,'' Ms Bonney-Eru said.

''I've seen this big darkness and felt a smack in my mouth.''

However, in her closing address defence counsel Deborah Henderson said the jury should be left with reasonable doubt about how Ms Bonney-Eru's disfigurement occurred.

If the woman had been punched hard in the face, why was there no bruising, swelling or cuts to her face or lips?

Mrs Henderson also suggested there was a slew of inconsistencies between the victim's story and her sister's, including when, what and how much they were drinking that night.

''If she's lying about one part of her story, how can you be sure she's not lying about how she lost her teeth?'' she asked.

Dentist Dr Haneen Alayan said to avulse three teeth would require ''heavy, concentrated force''.

She could not rule out the injuries being caused by the woman biting on something but said if that had been the case, she would have expected to see a severed thumb or at least severe scarring. She compared it to biting a brick.

Magee had cuts to his thumb which were photographed by police and shown to the jury.

The jury returned the unanimous verdicts after nearly three hours of deliberation.

rob.kidd@odt.co.nz

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