Coach who inflicted 'degrading' assault on his ex avoids jail
A former rugby coach in Co Tyrone who admitted assaulting his now ex-partner in a domestic violence attack has avoided jail.
Hemi Taukiri, the former head coach of Clogher Valley RFC, was heavily criticised by a judge who branded his conduct "humiliating and degrading".
Taukiri (45), of Main Street, Fivemiletown, had been due to return to his native New Zealand days after the offence but was required to cancel his travel plans.
Yesterday he was handed a three-month prison term, suspended for two years.
Dungannon Magistrates Court heard police received a report from the victim just before midnight on April 7, saying that Taukiri had assaulted her.
She explained the couple had been attending an end-of-season rugby party where an argument had broken out among Taukiri and some team members.
They left and on returning home Taukiri began shouting at the victim at the front door, accusing her of failing to stand up for him during the earlier incident.
Once inside, he told the victim to leave and proceeded to grab her by the neck and jacket, drag her a distance along the hallway, then punch her face.
Taukiri then went upstairs, gathered the victim's belongings and hurled them at her as she lay on the floor.
She contacted police and Taukiri was arrested.
While he recalled grabbing the victim, he told police a lot of alcohol had been consumed and his memory "was not complete."
He could not recall striking the victim but accepted her account of events.
The court heard Taukiri expressed remorse and asserted such behaviour was "not in his character".
The couple are no longer in contact and Taukiri's departure remains imminent.
A defence barrister highlighted Taukiri's full co-operation with police and immediate acceptance of guilt.
He said: "My client accepts unequivocally what occurred. It is agreed this was an unsavoury incident and it is understood the custody threshold has been passed, but I ask the previously clear record is borne in mind."
District Judge John Meehan said: "The idea of a woman humiliated, degraded and attacked in such a cruel fashion is highly disturbing.
"This attitude of this court for all persons who commit such sustained violence in the confines of the home, will inevitably mean custody, save for only the most exceptional circumstances."
However, the judge said the attitude shown by Taukiri immediately accepting his guilt, which in turn spared the victim the additional stress of a contest, was of high importance.
"This has avoided the drearily familiar game of perpetrators in domestic violence matters to see if victims withdraw their evidence and the case goes away," he said.
Handing down the three-month prison term, Judge Meehan said this could be suspended this for two years, but warned there must be no repetition.
Taukiri must also pay the victim £500 compensation.