Matene Hapeta says his pit bull cross, “Biggy”, is a family dog who was protecting him on his own property on the west coast of the South Island.
Hapeta was supposed to stand trial with only one judge, but pleaded guilty after another charge of possession of an offensive weapon was dropped.
According to the factual summary, Mr. Purcell arrived at Mr. Hapeta’s Reefton property, a worker’s home on a farm. Mr. Purcell was loading waste material onto a trailer next to Mr. Hapeta’s home.
“(Hapeta) made an exception to this and left the house with a baseball bat and told (Purcell) to fuck off,” the summary read.
There was a heated verbal exchange and both sides threw their fists. Biggy bit Mr. Purcell several times.
Hapeta’s partner, Nicole Hapeta, hit Purcell with the baseball bat before driving him away.
The summary stated that Purcell had a 1.5 cm laceration on his left leg and two 2 cm lacerations on the lower part of the right leg, as well as a “slight bite on the left buttock.”
Hapeta told police that he would have locked up his dog if he had known the exchange was going to be physical.
The police did not request an order for the destruction of the dog “in the face of extenuating circumstances.”
Defense attorney Richard Bodle said Purcell entered the property uninvited and that the dog was not aggressive until the two men got into a fight.
Hapeta told the court that the dog was now on a farm in Canterbury.
Judge Tony Couch said he wanted to see more evidence of exceptional circumstances.
He said that Mr. Hapeta’s responsibility was to keep his dog restrained so that he would not harm any unexpected visitors to his property, such as a postal worker or meter reader.
He sent Hapeta to sentence on February 10 and asked for evidence and presentations on whether the destruction of the dog would be unjustified.
Outside of court, Hapeta said he believed Purcell was stealing the wood.
The two had been working together on the farm, but had a hard time with each other, he said.
“I was going to plead not guilty because I did not want my dog killed. As the father of six children, seven including him, the dog, it would be wrong of me not to defend him for what he did. I on our property,” he said.
Biggy was only defending his owner on his own property, Hapeta said.
“Are we going to let this dog be euthanized to protect his family?”
Purcell said Things his boss had given him permission to take the scrap wood in the work vehicle.
“While I was carrying the last of the wood, he came out with a baseball bat and attacked me. They hit me over the head with the bat,” he said.
He believed that Mr. Hapeta had thrown the dog on him. Mr. Hapeta denies it.
Purcell said “it was not the dog’s fault at all.”
“The dog barked a lot, but it was never anyone in the six or eight months I met him, until he made me sick.”