Attack on Gore lifeguard ‘most disturbing’: CEO

An attack on a lifeguard at Gore’s swimming pool has been described by the local council’s chief executive as the most disturbing episode he had seen in nearly 30 years of service in the local government sector.

McGregor Tioti Tume (44), of Mataura, appeared in the Gore District Court this week and was sentenced to 10 and a-half months’ home detention, to be served in Whanganui, with six months’ post-release conditions.

Tume admitted threatening to kill, impeding breathing or circulation, behaving threateningly and injuring with intent to injure after the incident on April 16.

A police summary of facts, read at an earlier court appearance, said the defendant was swimming at the Gore Aquatic Centre in a lane which had been booked.

The victim, who worked as a lifeguard, made multiple attempts to get Tume’s attention to shift into another lane.

After being unable to gain his attention she used a common technique and lightly touched Tume’s head to gain his attention.

He then climbed out of the pool and aggressively confronted the lifeguard before grabbing her and tackling her to the ground.

Tume dragged her into the leisure pool and submerged her head under the water for about seven seconds, using his weight to press her down.

As the victim was surprised by the attack she did not have time to hold her breath.

‘‘At this point the victim felt that she was going to die,’’ the summary said.

After bystanders shouted at Tume, he lifted her out of the water.

Judge Jim Large declined to allow Tume to serve his home detention in Gore.

The Gore District Council, which runs the pool, released a statement after the sentencing.

In it, council chief executive Stephen Parry said all staff, particularly those at the pool, had been rocked by the horrific assault, and had been there to support the staff member who was attacked.

‘‘Staff go to work to serve the public, and provide a professional and safe recreational service. Staff do not and should not expect to be attacked doing their job,’’ he said.

‘‘The attack on 16 April was harrowing to witness on closed circuit television.

‘‘It is, by some margin, the most disturbing episode, in terms of a member of the public posing a threat to a staff member, I have witnessed in my 28 years working in the local government sector.

‘‘I wish to express my high admiration for the stoic and courageous way in which our staff member conducted herself throughout this traumatic process,’’ he said.

‘‘While the matter before the courts is now concluded, the council’s support of the staff member in the journey to restore confidence and optimism, will continue in earnest.

‘‘In this regard, I would also like to acknowledge the aquatic centre team and the sensitive leadership of our manager Martin MacKereth.

‘‘They have rallied around the victim and supported each other in the aftermath of the attack,’’ Mr Parry said.

Tume brought a letter of apology to the court in which he said he was remorseful for causing the victim harm and that he wanted to reassure her New Zealand was a safe country.



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