MMA hold assault on stranger gets Whangārei man community work, $1000 fine

The offender put the victim in a complex MMA hold and elbowed him in the face and head. Photo / 123rf

A man who knocked a stranger to the ground three times before putting the victim in a mixed martial arts [MMA] hold has managed to avoid a harsh sentence for offending described as “absolute thuggery”.

Zion Te Kura, 33, of One Tree Point, appeared for sentencing on one charge of assault with intent to injure before Judge Gene Tomlinson at the Whangārei District Court.

On November 29, 2022, a friend drove Te Kura home after he had been drinking in One Tree Point.

During the journey Te Kura demanded his friend give him the keys so he could drive. The friend pulled over and started walking to get away from Te Kura, who followed him.


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Te Kura followed him to Rauiri Rd, where they got into a wrestling match, near where the victim was out walking his dog.

Te Kura then decided to attack the victim, who was unknown to him, by punching him in the head.

The victim was knocked to the ground three times and then placed in an MMA hold where Te Kura continued to strike the victim in the head and face with his elbows.

The victim suffered multiple injuries and needed time off work.


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Police prosecutor Stu Wilkes pushed for a sentence of electronic monitoring, because the court had a requirement to protect the community from this type of offending.

“This was absolute thuggery. There needs to be something that comes back to the victim to acknowledge the injuries he was subjected to and to say ‘I’m going to right this wrong”, Wilkes said.

But Te Kura’s lawyer, Martin Hislop, said his client was a single father of three and if he were ordered to wear an electronic bracelet, he would lose his job and end up on a benefit.

Judge Tomlinson took into consideration Te Kura’s responsibilities as a father and decided against an electronically monitored sentence as it would be too difficult to manage around shift work.

“I’m interested in you keeping your job and you providing for your kids. You expressed remorse, were willing to do restorative justice, and have also not been drinking.

“This offending is unlikely to be repeated as your life does not revolve around gangs. It revolves around your kids and fishing,” Judge Tomlinson said.

Te Kura was sentenced to 360 hours of community work and ordered to pay the victim $1000 in emotional harm reparation.

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