Strangler expresses surprise that he did not kill his victim in brutal attack

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Moana Ufi used a piece of timber to try to ‘crack the victim’s head open’ but the wood was not strong enough. Photo / Robb Kidd, Otago Daily Times

A Dunedin man who choked his victim unconscious and beat him with a piece of wood said he was surprised he did not kill him.

Moana Ufi, 24, was originally charged with attempted murder over the May 11 incident but yesterday pleaded guilty to strangulation and assault with a weapon.

The High Court at Dunedin heard the extreme violence was sparked by a dispute over a cellphone charger worth $40.

The victim cut the cord after Ufi refused to lend it to him.


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The enraged defendant followed the man into his room at the Great King St community housing facility and took his anger out on a wooden dresser.

Ufi threw pieces of timber at the man until he was restrained by others.

He broke free and kicked the victim in the chest, cornering him between a couch and bed as the man lay face down on the floor.

Standing over him, Ufi reached around his head and covered his nose with both hands to stop him from breathing.


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As the victim “wriggled” to escape, the defendant put his left arm around his neck and pushed down on the man’s head with his right.

The “choke-hold” rendered the victim unconscious and Ufi maintained his grip until he was dragged away by a witness.

It was not the end of his retribution though.

After pulling away, the defendant hit the motionless victim on the back of the head with a piece of wood.

As Ufi was finally restrained, he threatened to stab the man.

When police found the defendant in his room, he remained unrepentant.

Ufi told officers he had wanted to kill the victim and had only stopped the attack because he was pulled away.

He was surprised he had not killed him, he said.

Ufi said he had used the timber to try to “crack the victim’s head open” but the wood had not been strong enough.

“The defendant stated he still wants to kill the victim,” police recorded.


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Ufi has spent time behind bars in the past.

In September 2019, he was jailed for 16 months and added to the Child Sex Offender Register after grooming a 14-year-old girl online and arranging to meet her for sex.

The liaison was blocked by the victim’s family after they saw the messages from Ufi on her phone.

Only weeks after the incident, the defendant was arrested in North Dunedin and found to be carrying a large hunting knife in a leather sheath in the waistband of his pants.

Ufi was remanded in custody on his most recent charges and will be sentenced in October.

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