Racial insult thrown in altercation that left man fighting for life following alleged one-punch assault

Opening statements have been heard today in the trial of a 21-year-old who allegedly assaulted another man, leaving him fighting for his life.

Police say Joseph Kurene punched the man in the head once with a closed fist, causing him to fall to the ground. He then hit his head again on the road, causing further injuries.

The incident happened in February 2016 when Kurene was driving alone in his car around Palmerston North and the alleged victim was in a car driven by his former partner with two other men inside.

The Crown argues Kurene reacted badly to a verbal exchange between the passengers when the cars stopped beside each other.

Kurene is charged with intent to injure causing grievous bodily harm. He could face seven years in prison.

The judge told the jury the question in the trial is around Kurene's intent when throwing the punch.

Kurene claims he acted in self-defence, as the victim allegedly approached him in an aggressive manner and went to make a move during the altercation.

The former partner of the alleged victim became emotional on the witness stand, telling the court she thought he was dead after being knocked out cold.

She was sober driving for him and two other friends the night he was allegedly assaulted.

She told the court the three men were very "revved up" and were yelling at Joseph Kurene, who was travelling alone in another car.

"At one point race did come into it, (they made) a racial slur, yes."

She said she can't remember who made the racist comment.

She said Kurene then followed them in his car, so she pulled over as she didn't want him to follow them anymore.

She said from her rear view mirror she then saw the victim fall backwards and heard "a loud crack".

"It was like someone had taken his feet out from underneath him… I didn't know how dangerous the situation we were in was."

She said he was completely unresponsive, with blood coming out of his head. She then called 111. The call will be played to the jury as evidence.

The victim required urgent surgery in Wellington Hospital the following morning, having suffered a fractured skull and a brain bleed.

He was in hospital for months and now requires care at home from his parents.

Source: istock.com

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Virginia suspends new policy barring women visiting inmates from wearing tampons, menstrual cups

Virginia is suspending a newly introduced policy that would have barred women who visit inmates at state prisons from wearing tampons or menstrual cup.

Secretary of Public and Homeland Security Safety Brian Moran said today on Twitter that he had ordered an "immediate suspension until further review."

The abrupt about-face comes a day after widespread media coverage of state prison officials' plan to ban tampons starting next month as a way to prevent contraband from being smuggled into prisons.

Moran said he understands the worries about contraband, but added that "a number of concerns have been raised about the new procedure."

"I feel it appropriate to immediately suspend the newly developed policy until a more thorough review of its implementation and potential consequences are considered," Moran said.

Inmate advocates have been sharply critical of the now-suspended policy, saying it violates the privacy rights of female visitors.

ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Claire Gastanaga said the policy should be permanently put to rest rather than simply suspended.

And Phyllis Randall, a former chairwoman of the state Board of Corrections, sent Moran a letter Tuesday saying the policy "represents a major systemic failure and an admission" that Moran and Department of Corrections Director Harold Clark "have lost the ability to effectively keep contraband out of Virginia's prisons."

Corrections spokeswoman Lisa Kinney previously said that the agency had consulted with the state Attorney General's Office about how to implement the policy and "it was decided that facilities would offer pads to women who are wearing tampons while visiting a prison so the tampons don't appear as possible contraband on a body scan."

She said that when potential contraband is seen on a body scan, visitors are offered the choice of a strip search or leaving the prison without visiting with an inmate. She said at the time that the new policy "aims to help visitors avoid that altogether."

"Offenders in Virginia have died of drug overdoses while inside our prisons. It's our job to keep the offenders and staff as safe as we can," Kinney said.

Close-up of male feet in chains
Source: istock.com

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Two men jailed over fatal beating of Melbourne Airbnb guest who owed rent

An Australian judge sentenced two men to prison today over the fatal beating of their Airbnb guest who owed rent.

The guest, Ramis Jonuzi, 36, was killed at a rented house in the Melbourne suburb of Brighton East on October 25 last year.

Housemates Ryan Charles Smart, 38, and Craig Jonathon Levy, 37, each pleaded guilty in the Victoria state Supreme Court to his manslaughter after murder charges were downgraded.

Smart must serve a minimum six years of a nine-year sentence. Levy was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison and must serve at least 4 1/2 years.

A third housemate, Jason Colton, will stand trial next year for Jonuzi's murder. He faces a potential life sentence in prison if convicted.

Jonuzi had been renting a room in the trio's home through the house-sharing website for a few days and extended his stay to a week.

He was asked to leave the day he died after failing to pay $A210 in owed rent, according to prosecution facts accepted by defense lawyers.

An argument erupted about the unpaid money after Jonuzi packed up to leave. Jonuzi was kicked and punched in the living room until he lost consciousness.

Levy helped carry him outside then used a phone to have Jonuzi check his bank balance and confirm it contained just $6, before the attack continued. Jonuzi cried and apologized as he was beaten.

"For some of the attack, Mr. Jonuzi was unconscious on the ground, for all of it he was helpless," Justice Andrew Tinney said.

A preliminary court hearing in May was told that Levy called police to remove Jonuzi from the house, but officers arrived to find Jonuzi lying face down in chocolate cake in the front yard and with blood around his nose and eyes.

Police could not revive him.

An autopsy found Jonuzi died from "compression of the neck and blunt-force trauma to the head."

Novi Sad, Serbia - March 24, 2016: Close-up of an unrecognizable woman using the Airbnb App on her Lenovo A916 Android smartphone in a car. Login screen with Facebook and Google sign up options. Airbnb is a service for people to list, find, and rent lodging. It currently has over 1,500,000 listings in 34,000 cities and 190 countries.
Airbnb (file picture). Source: istock.com

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NZ strawberry grower forks out $20,000 for security measures

An Auckland strawberry grower has forked out more than $20,000 for metal detectors, after needle-ridden strawberries were found in New Zealand.

On Sunday, three needles were found in one punnet of Western Australian strawberries at an Auckland supermarket.

It was still unclear where the needles came from.

Australia's strawberry contamination crisis comes just as New Zealand growers are about to put their fruit on the market.

The Zaberri Strawberry farm is just 20 minutes north of Auckland City.

A large silver tin shed sits at the entrance, that's the pack house, and 29 fields lined with rows of strawberry plants surround it.

The farm's owner, who goes by one name, Boman, has run the place for nine years.

In two weeks 150 of his workers will start the harvest.

"We pick [the strawberries] in the early hours of the morning, so ideally we try to have all of our fields picked before... midday, one o'clock and they'll be picked here, and scanned and sent to the packhouse," he said.

Police in Australia have been investigating more than 100 reports of contaminated fruit, many of which are believed to be hoaxes and copycat incidents.

And every Australian strawberry now has to pass through a metal detector before it can be exported.

The same regulations have not been imposed on the 150 New Zealand growers - but Boman was not taking any risks.

"So, we've invested in metal detectors, which will be installed here before our season starts and everything that's been picked and packed will be examined.

"We'll be adding additional surveillance cameras to capture everything that goes in and out of our cool stores," he said.

Despite spending more than $20,000 on the new security measures, Boman is certain the strawberry sabotage crisis won't happen here.

"Some might think that it's over the top, but I think it is better to be ready to ensure our industry is not put into a chaos like what's happened in Australia," he said.

It's a crucial time for strawberry growers - the harvest season has already started for some and it's about to start for others.

The Australian industry, worth about $AU130 million annually, was hit at the start of its season.

The scare prompted product recalls and forced growers to destroy their crops.

If the situation here reaches the same level, the $35m New Zealand industry will be hit hard, Boman said.

"It'll have a significant impact on our financial ability going forward, and not just for us, I think right across, from the growers mainly, retailers will be affected and there will be many employees.

"We've got people here whose whole family relies on them."

The maximum penalty for contaminating food in New Zealand is ten years' imprisonment.

By Katie Scotcher

rnz.co.nz

Strawberry grower Boman
Strawberry grower Boman. Source: rnz.co.nz


All Blacks legend Richie McCaw shares his top tips for success with young leaders

There's no question that plenty of kids look up to Richie McCaw and dream of the kind of success he's had.

So, you can imagine how stoked 800 odd secondary students were today when the man himself shared his own leadership lessons at the Kids with Character Empower Me Leadership seminar in Auckland.

TVNZ1's Seven Sharp asked him what his top tips were for kids.

Tip 1:

"The first one that I really live by is that you can't go past hard work, if you think it's going to be easy, if you achieve it when it's easy you're probably not going to get the satisfaction of what it's all about."

Tip 2:

"Attention to detail, understanding of what it takes as not everyone knows, asking for advice or asking for help from people around you who can see things from a different way."

Tip 3:

"You got to have that drive. It's not someone telling you that you've got to work hard, you've got to really want to do it yourself and I think the people who have that are the most successful."

All advice that will help McCaw in perhaps his biggest challenge of all, becoming a dad.

McCaw spoke at the Character Empower Me Leadership seminar in Auckland. Source: Seven Sharp


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