Woman left with serious brain injury after partner’s violent assault

By Catrin Owen, Stuff.co.nz

Warning – this story contains details of domestic violence some readers may find upsetting.

  • A man sent threatening messages to his partner before leaving her with a serious brain injury, saying she had fallen in the shower.
  • She was found unconscious on a mattress inside the Auckland home, with Kasinga Filivao refusing to let a neighbour inside.
  • Filivao has now successfully got his minimum term of imprisonment reduced.

A woman was found by ambulance staff lying unconscious on a urine-soaked mattress, with both her eyes swollen shut. As a result of the assault by her partner, she has been left with a serious brain injury and will need care for the remainder of her life.

Her partner, Kasinga Filivao, was found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm and assaulting her.

In September 2016, he was sentenced to 14 years and six months imprisonment by Judge McNaughton. He was ordered to serve at least nine years.

Filivao then appealed the sentence to the Court of Appeal. In a recently released judgment, the court quashed the minimum term of imprisonment replacing it with a minimum term of eight years and eight months.

It dismissed the application for an extension of time to appeal the conviction.

Filivao and the victim were in a relationship for around nine months and lived together in Auckland’s Mangere.

The relationship was described as violent by witnesses and family members.

In June 2014, Filivao and the victim were at a relative’s home when Filivao began throwing food at her.

The relative was out of the room for 10 minutes and when he returned he found the victim on the floor, then saw Filivao stomp on her face with his foot.

Once the victim got up, Filivao was witnessed pulling her hair. The relative got between them and was hit by a beer bottle.

The victim was also punched in the head.

Some six months later, Filivao sent threatening messages to the victim in Tongan, telling her he would beat her up and kill her.

She stayed with friends and went to her aunt’s place on December 21.

Filivao picked her up. That evening, neighbours heard a series of loud bangs, thuds and swearing and screaming.

Later that evening, Filivao called his ex-wife to tell her he couldn’t look after their children and asked her to come and pick up their belongings.

He told her to wait on the road.

The following morning, he called in sick to work.

Neighbours described Filivao as “nervous and fidgety” and didn’t want a neighbour coming into the house.

At 5pm that night, Filivao called an ambulance saying his partner was sleeping and would not wake up. He later said she had fallen in the shower.

“When ambulance staff arrived, they found the victim lying unconscious on a mattress which was heavily soiled with urine, and with serious facial injuries including both of her eyes being swollen shut. They also noticed the appellant had significant swelling to the knuckles on his hand,” the Court of Appeal judgment said.

The woman has suffered a serious brain injury and will remain in care for the rest of her life being unable to feed herself.

Filivao did not give evidence at trial and at his sentencing the judge found he had a high risk of committing other serious violent offences against women.

“It was common ground that the MPI (minimum term of imprisonment) imposed exceeded the maximum. In that respect, there was clearly a miscarriage of justice. This was recognised by the Crown who did not oppose allowing the appeal on this ground of leave. It is an extraordinary circumstance. We therefore grant an extension of time to appeal the sentence,” the Court of Appeal judgment said.

Domestic violence: where to get help

  • If you or someone you know is in a dangerous situation click the Shielded icon at the bottom of this website to contact Women’s Refuge in a safe and anonymous way without it being traced in your browser history. If you’re in our app, visit the mobile website here to access Shielded.
  • Women’s Refuge 0800 733 843
  • Shine Free call 0508 744 633 between 9am and 11pm (for men and women)
  • 1737, Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 to talk to a trained counsellor.
  • Kidsline 0800 54 37 54 for people up to 18 years old. Open 24/7.
  • What’s Up 0800 942 8787 (for 5 to 18-year-olds). Phone counselling available Monday-Friday, noon-11pm and weekends, 3pm-11pm. Online chat is available 3pm-10pm daily.
  • Youthline 0800 376 633, free text 234, email [email protected], or find online chat and other support options here.
  • If you or someone else is in immediate danger, call 111

– Stuff

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