6 July 2023

Drunken Summernats jaw breaker acted in 'criminal way' during assault

| Albert McKnight
car doing burnout

A man had his jaw broken during an assault at Summernats 2022. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

While a drunken man who broke a spectator’s jaw during burnouts at last year’s Summernats did act in a “wholly unacceptable and criminal way”, he was spared being returned to jail when he was sentenced.

Karawera Te Kaitahi Mangu Rerekura had been extradited from NSW to face his charge. He spent 17 days in custody on remand before he was granted bail over the incident from 8 January 2022.

In the original documents tendered to the ACT Magistrates Court last year, it was alleged he was in a group of people who got into a dispute with another group over seating during the burnout qualifying masters show at about 3:30 pm.

Rerekura, while drunk, punched an 18-year-old member of the other group once in the face, breaking his victim’s jaw.

The original documents say the victim was taken to hospital. He had two fractures to his jaw and a dislodged tooth that required surgery, the insertion of screws and metal plates into his jaw, as well as the removal of the tooth.

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“Mr Rerekura acted in a wholly unacceptable and criminal way when he punched the victim to the jaw,” defence barrister Stephen Robinson said.

“Mr Rerekura submits, however, that the court need not send him to jail.”

Mr Robinson, who was instructed by Anastasia Qvist from Fortify Legal, argued the incident was linked to his client’s upbringing of disadvantage, as authority figures in his life had been quick to violence.

He argued that it was also linked to his mental health at the time.

The 29-year-old, who has five children with his current partner, is the sole income earner for his family.

Mr Robinson argued the hardship faced by his family would be profound if he was returned to custody.

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He also argued his client had expressed remorse. A court report prepared for his sentencing stated, “To his credit, Mr Rerekura was able to verbalise significant victim empathy”.

“He identified the nexus between his high level of intoxication and subsequent offending behaviour,” the report says.

Rerekura, who lives in Gosford in NSW, works in the construction industry and says he hasn’t drunk alcohol since the assault.

He pleaded guilty and on Wednesday (5 July), Magistrate Robert Cook convicted him on a charge of causing grievous bodily harm.

He was sentenced to 13 months’ jail, fully suspended for a 12-month good behaviour order.

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