NZ Local News

Ingham twin attacked by drinking buddy year before her death in June

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Joanne Ingham captivated the country with her twin in the ’90s – her death in a Wellington Motel earlier this year is still undetermined. Photo / File

Before Joanne Ingham’s death in June the infamous stowaway twin was involved in an altercation that left her with cuts to her face.

Now her attacker, Tania Korau, has been sentenced for smashing the 43-year-old in the head with a small wooden club during a drinking session that turned sour last year.

Ingham and her twin sister Sarah captivated the nation in the late 1990s when they made headlines for stowing away on a Malaysian container ship in New Zealand.

The pair jumped overboard somewhere near Queensland, and after surviving shark and crocodile-infested waters, told their remarkable story to Paul Holmes on television, marking one of the most famous Kiwi interviews of all time.

In June, the mother-of-two’s body was found in a Wellington motel. Her death is still under investigation by the coroner.

Korau, 52, was today sentenced in the Wellington District Court to community detention and 12 months of intensive supervision for the attack on Ingham.

In March last year, Korau and Ingham had been drinking together in a flat when a hostile encounter prompted the violent attack, a summary of facts said.

Ingham had been drinking in the afternoon with another person before meeting with Korau and someone else in Newtown, Wellington.

Drinking into the evening, Ingham asked if they could go to Korau’s home in the nearby suburb of Berhampore, which they did.

Tania Korau was sentenced today for injuring the late Joanne Ingham in a Wellington flat last year. Photo / Hazel Osborne
Tania Korau was sentenced today for injuring the late Joanne Ingham in a Wellington flat last year. Photo / Hazel Osborne

While sitting on the couch in the lounge, Ingham kicked over a coffee table into Korau, the summary read.

“Taking exception” to the seemingly unprovoked attack, Korau reached for a wooden ornament – which she called a “patu” – that had fallen off the table.

She struck Ingham about the head three times with the wooden object, causing multiple cuts to her face.

The attack left Ingham’s face bloodied and caused a 3cm laceration to her upper eyelid, a 3cm laceration to her forehead, and a haematoma on her scalp.

She also had a superficial cut on the bridge of her nose.

Korau took Ingham into the bathroom where she helped clean blood off her face.

After about half an hour the group left to get help. Walking toward the hospital, they stopped a member of the public who called emergency services, the summary said.

Korau told police she assaulted Ingham because she was defending herself.

Judge Jan Kelly said Korau had a background of deprivation and mental health issues, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety from violence she had suffered in her past.

Korau’s issues had been exacerbated by her past and the violence she had suffered at the hands of others.

These challenges contributed to Korau’s alcohol addition, Judge Kelly said.

Probation said Korau had a “difficult passage through life”, and had accepted responsibility for her behaviour.

She didn’t, however, express concern or care for Ingham’s welfare.

Judge Kelly sentenced Korau to five months of community detention and 12 months of intensive supervision.

“I wish you well. It’s a hard thing to do but it’s really important you do that drug and alcohol counseling,” Judge Kelly said.

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