7 Nov 2014

Jail for vicious attack on officer

9:44 pm on 7 November 2014

A police officer left with a brain jury after a man he pulled over punched and kicked him before stomping on his face is still unable to return to frontline duties more than a year after the attack.

Walter Tauatevalu was today jailed for six-and-a-half years over the September 2013 attack in South Auckland.

Walter Tauatevalu, who is charged with the attempted murder of police officer Simon Tate.

Walter Tauatevalu at an earlier court hearing. Photo: RNZ

In September, Tauatevalu was found not guilty at the High Court in Auckland of attempted murder but convicted of causing grievous bodily harm with intent, and an assault on his estranged wife.

The court was told that Tauatevalu got angry with her at a rugby league prize-giving. He punched her before bundling her into his car.

A short time later, Sergeant Simon Tate pulled Tauatevalu over and, while talking to him, was attacked.

Justice Lang said Tauatevalu threw an uppercut, repeated punches, kicks and stomps to the officer's face, leaving him with life-threatening injuries.

The judge said the courts had to stand behind the Crown when they bought charges like this before them and the attack had sent ripples through the police force.

"Police officers who attend incidents like this late at night are vulnerable - they have no immediate back up if things go wrong."

The court was told that Mr Tate has been unable to return to frontline duties.

His partner Lisa Ross, who is also a police officer, said she had to take time off work to be his eyes and ears because of his brain injury.

Ms Ross said when she returned to work she had become fearful about responding to jobs on her own and had to take a desk job.