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Nicholas Hawkes back at Red Door rehab after threatening to cut off his partner’s head

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A man who threatened to cut off his partner’s head sent 21 pages worth of text messages containing abusive language. Photo / 123rf

A man who threatened to cut off his partner’s head and mount it on his vehicle like a trophy had ignored a protection order and sent the woman so many threatening messages they filled “21 pages”.

Nicholas John Hawkes, of Motueka, was on bail on other matters when between the night of September 13 and the morning of September 15 this year, he threatened the victim multiple times via phone and text.

Hawkes, 29, had been served with a temporary protection order in December 2022 in favour of the woman, with whom he had been in a relationship for two and a half years.

Police said the messages he sent her filled 21 pages and all contained abusive and degrading language, the Nelson District Court heard yesterday.

During one call to the woman, Hawkes threatened to cut off her head, which she believed he would do, and “mount it on his vehicle like a trophy”.

The threats followed a rash of offending by Hawkes on January 6 this year, including him slashing a man with a broken bottle during a fight.

Hawkes had driven to an address in Motueka, where the man was just leaving. He stopped and offered to talk to Hawkes, who grabbed a bottle from the back of his ute and broke it on the vehicle before walking towards the man.

A witness said the man had Hawkes in a headlock as he swung the bottle near the man’s face, limbs and abdomen several times.

The man, who suffered deep cuts to his face, arms and body and was bleeding profusely, let go when Hawkes said he was “dead in Motueka”.

He was taken by ambulance to Nelson Hospital and treated for his wounds.

Earlier that day, police arrived at Hawkes’ home with a search warrant regarding another matter and found 179 cannabis plants in several large trays at the rear of the garden.

The police said they appeared to be largely propagated from cuttings. Hawkes’ vehicle was then seized, and when it was searched, police found a .22-calibre bolt-action rifle wrapped in a blanket in the cab.

The rifle had no magazine attached and was in poor condition but capable of being fired. At the time, Hawkes had an active charge of having a .303 rifle.

Just after midday on January 6, Hawkes was at home when he became “irrational” towards his partner.

He picked up a plate, smashed it and became more enraged. She tried to leave, mindful her daughter was still asleep in the car.

Hawkes went outside and used a machete to hack at her car’s tyre, then took the key from the ignition so she could not leave. She called his father for help, who also lived at the address.

Hawkes, highly agitated, was telling the victim he was going to kill himself, which she believed he would do.

In her efforts to stop him from leaving, she was kicked in the head several times and pulled across the floor.

Hawkes’ father stepped in to help before his son drove away and was arrested several hours later.

Yesterday, Hawkes, who appeared in court via an audio-visual link from Rimutaka Prison, was sentenced on charges including threatening to kill, injuring with intent to injure, as well as twice breaching a protection order, unlawful possession of a firearm, wilful damage and cultivating cannabis.

It was heard that since the January offending, he has bounced between prison custody and rehabilitation at Wellington’s Red Door outreach centre while on remand.

His father, Paul Hawkes, said the programmes offered to his son had been a salvation and led to a connection between them they had not had in years.

Hawkes had suffered a relapse in September when he threatened violence against his partner.

“He knows he’s mucked up. Everyone is upset he’s re-offended, but it’s re-affirmed he has much more work to do,” defence lawyer Mark Dollimore said.

It took some convincing to get Judge Lawrence Hinton to agree that Hawkes, who faced a “suite of serious charges”, should be sentenced to home detention back with Red Door, given that he had threatened to kill his partner while on bail, following intervention by the programme.

But ultimately, the judge conceded that was the best outcome and sentenced him to six months of home detention at the centre.

The privately-run centre offers specialist programmes for health and addiction based on a therapeutic, non-clinical community treatment model, with a maximum of seven residential clients at one time.

Hawkes had spent $25,000 with the centre, funded in part by himself with a family inheritance and the rest by his father, who was willing to support his son into a career as a mechanic.

Paul Hawkes told the court he supported the Red Door programme, to the degree he was considering setting up a similar one in the Nelson region.

“I don’t want anyone to go through what Nick and ourselves have gone through.”

Tracy Neal is a Nelson-based Open Justice reporter at NZME. She was previously RNZ’s regional reporter in Nelson-Marlborough and has covered general news, including court and local government for the Nelson Mail.

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