Dog owner’s charge upgraded to manslaughter after victim’s death

By Shannon Pitman, Open Justice reporter of NZ Herald

Abel Wira, who is accused of owning the dogs that mauled Neville Thomson in Panguru last year, is flanked by security guards in the Kaitāia District Court. Photo: RNZ / Peter de Graaf

Abel Wira during his court appearance last year.
Photo: RNZ / Peter de Graaf

A man who was originally charged with being the owner of a dog that caused injury to a person has had his charge upgraded to manslaughter, after a man died from allegedly being mauled by his pack of dogs.

Abel Wira, 59, first appeared in Kaitāia District Court in December 2023 where he refused to get in the dock and was held in custody in contempt.

Wira attempted to raise a defence of being “a living man”, which was rejected by Judge Gene Tomlinson who warned Wira that the charges he was facing were serious.

Wira was granted bail, however Judge Tomlinson raised the issue then whether Wira had been charged correctly to which the prosecution advised that they were looking into the charge.

On Monday, Wira was officially charged and appeared in the Kaitāia District Court, accused of manslaughter in connection with the death of Neville Thomson, a resident of Panguru.

Wira was boarding at Thomson’s home on Puketawa Rd and was listed as the owner of six dogs and 17 puppies that allegedly attacked Thomson who fatally died at the scene in August 2022.

The maximum penalty for manslaughter is a life sentence, whereas the maximum penalty for the owner of a dog causing injury is limited to three years imprisonment along with a $2000 fine.

Wira will next appear in the Kaitāia District Court on 20 March.

* This story originally appeared in the New Zealand Herald.

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