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Rajesh Kumar jailed for attempted murder after slashing young girl’s throat in South Auckland home




South Auckland man who woke a young girl in the middle of the night then cut her throat with a fish-filleting knife has received a hefty prison term for an attack described by a judge as an “egregious breach of trust”.

Name suppression lapsed for Rosehill resident Rajesh Kumar, 53, as he appeared before Justice Geoffrey Venning in the High Court at Auckland today after he earlier pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of the child and the kidnapping days earlier of his wife.

Both offences are punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

Kumar was ordered to serve a 10-and-a-half-year term – nine years for the attempted murder to be served back-to-back, instead of concurrently, with an 18-month sentence for the kidnapping. The judge also ordered he serve at least six years before he can apply for parole.

“She is still suffering from the results of your offending,” Justice Venning told the defendant of the child victim, describing the attack as pre-meditated and “extremely violent and unprovoked”.

“She should have been entitled to feel safe in her own home.”

According to court documents, Kumar decided to attack the child after a night of drinking in December 2022, entering her bedroom, nudging her awake about 3am and motioning for her to follow him.

He led the child to a garage and told her to sit in a chair as he stood in front of her, at which point he told her her father wasn’t who she thought it was. The child attempted to leave, but the defendant ordered her to stay.

“Without speaking further, the defendant walked behind [the girl] and stood behind her while she was sitting on the seat facing away from him,” court documents state. “He grabbed [the girl] by the hair and pulled her hair backwards, raising her chin and exposing her throat and neck. The defendant then used the knife to slit [her throat].”

Rosehill resident Rajesh Kumar appears in the High Court at Auckland in 2023 after being charged with kidnapping and attempted murder. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Rosehill resident Rajesh Kumar appears in the High Court at Auckland in 2023 after being charged with kidnapping and attempted murder. Photo / Jason Oxenham

The knife, with a 15cm blade, caused extensive damage – cutting through muscle, exposing her windpipe and cutting her jugular vein. However, the cut narrowly missed her carotid artery and she survived following emergency surgery.

As the child fell to the floor and began screaming, the defendant tried to muffle her screams by “aggressively” pushing her head down and shoving his fingers in her mouth. Others in the house, however, awoke and intervened. One adult son pulled him away from the child.

“I’m going to end her life also,” the defendant said as he then walked towards his sleeping wife, the knife still in hand.

Another adult son grabbed the defendant and didn’t let go until he was able to take the knife from his father, who then fled the house. Still wearing blood-stained clothes and with a rope wrapped around his neck, the defendant was later arrested without incident in Thames, Coromandel.

A week before the throat-cutting incident, the defendant had kidnapped his wife – threatening to stab her if she didn’t get in the vehicle in which he had been following after she left their house on foot. Their 20-year marriage had been deteriorating for years, court documents state.

The kidnapping ended after about six hours, when an adult son intervened to calm the situation.

“Eventually, the defendant apologised and handed the knife to [his son],” the summary of facts for the case states. “The defendant asked [his wife] and [his son] to keep this incident between them. They agreed and returned to the family home. Police were therefore not notified of this incident at that time.”

During today’s sentencing, Crown prosecutor Bernadette Vaili argued a minimum term of imprisonment was necessary for Kumar both to hold him accountable for his conduct and to protect the community.

“It’s very clear that Mr Kumar takes no accountability for his offending,” she said. “He shows no insight, no remorse.”

The defendant told a pre-sentence report writer he had no memory of the attack, having drunk so heavily that night. But the “gratuitous” offending, Vaili said, was clearly “a series of calculated decisions”.

Defence lawyer Kelly-Ann Stoikoff characterised her client’s memory lapse not so much as an avoidance of responsibility as a fear of coming “face-to-face with a person he never wishes to see”.

A minimum term of imprisonment wouldn’t be necessary to protect the community, she said, because her client, who moved to New Zealand from Fiji in about 2005, hasn’t held a valid visa for some time. He will most likely be deported immediately after release from prison, she said.

But the judge decided a minimum term was necessary to hold Kumar accountable “and also to denounce your reprehensible conduct”.

Craig Kapitan is an Auckland-based journalist covering courts and justice. He joined the Herald in 2021 and has reported on courts since 2002 in three newsrooms in the US and New Zealand.


How to get help: If you’re in danger now: • Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours or friends to ring for you.
• Run outside and head for where there are other people. Scream for help so your neighbours can hear you.
• Take the children with you. Don’t stop to get anything else.
• If you are being abused, remember it’s not your fault. Violence is never okay.
Where to go for help or more information:
• Women’s Refuge: Crisis line – 0800 REFUGE or 0800 733 843 (available 24/7)
• Shine: Helpline – 0508 744 633 (available 24/7)
• It’s Not Ok: Family violence information line – 0800 456 450
• Shakti: Specialist services for African, Asian and Middle Eastern women and children.
• Crisis line – 0800 742 584 (available 24/7)
• Ministry of Justice: For information on family violence
• Te Kupenga Whakaoti Mahi Patunga: National Network of Family Violence Services
• White Ribbon: Aiming to eliminate men’s violence towards women.
How to hide your visit:
If you are reading this information on the Herald website and you’re worried that someone using the same computer will find out what you’ve been looking at, you can follow the steps at the link here to hide your visit. Each of the websites above also has a section that outlines this process.


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Fiji News

All Blacks v Fiji: what you need to know



Here is all you need to know about the match, where it’s going down and how you can follow the action.

All Blacks v Fiji: Live blog coverage on RNZ Sport

Kick-off: 2:30pm, Saturday 20 July NZT (Friday 7:30pm local)

At Snapdragon Stadium, San Diego

San Diego seems like an odd choice of venue?

It does, given that this is actually an All Blacks home fixture, so normally this would be played somewhere like Hamilton or Napier. However, NZ Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson has been upfront about the commercial opportunities that taking games to the United States brings and besides, this isn’t the first time this has happened.

The All Blacks played two horribly mismatched tests against the USA in Chicago and Washington DC, but it is their 2016 game against Ireland in the Windy City that is the most famous. The Irish picked up their first ever win over the All Blacks, a 40-29 result, in front of 60,000 at Soldier Field Stadium.

This week’s game is not the first time the All Blacks have played in San Diego, though. Way back in 1980 they beat the USA 53-6 at Chargers Stadium, which has since been demolished and replaced with the new, 35,000 seat Snapdragon Stadium. Fred Woodman, Portia Woodman-Wickliffe’s uncle, scored a hat trick in that win over the Americans.

All Black captain David Kirk in action during the Rugby World Cup match between the All Blacks and Fiji at Lancaster Park Christchurch, New Zealand, on Wednesday 27 May 1987.

All Blacks captain David Kirk in action during the Rugby World Cup match against Fiji at Lancaster Park, Christchurch, in 1987. Photo: ©PHOTOSPORT.

Saturday afternoon footy!

How good … unless you’re involved in senior club rugby finals around the country. But that’s OK because you can keep an eye on the action with Jamie Wall’s live blog, here on RNZ Sport.

How have Fiji gone lately?

Pretty good, if last year’s Rugby World Cup is anything to go by. The Fijians made the quarter finals and only just lost to England, who they had actually beaten at Twickenham before the tournament began. They did suffer a shock loss to Portugal in the pool stages, however that result may well have said more about the Portuguese and their rapid improvement in test rugby lately.

This year, they have started their season with a good 21-12 away win over Georgia in Batumi and the Fijian Drua made the Super Rugby Pacific playoffs.

Temo Mayanavanua and Scott Barrett swap jerseys.

Temo Mayanavanua and Scott Barrett swap jerseys after the All Blacks vs Fiji match in Hamilton, in 2021. Photo: Jeremy Ward/Photosport

What about the All Blacks in their first two tests?

They won both, which is the main thing.

England turned out to be a very well drilled and effective side, who are clearly on an upward trend in terms of playing both positive rugby and to their traditional strength of forward play and kicking. Scott Robertson’s team were able to nullify both – just – due to a noticeable shift in tactics in the first test and the impact of Beauden Barrett in the second.

However, not much from those games can really be taken into this test against Fiji. The starting side is going to be completely overhauled with four potential debutantes getting a run, Patrick Tuipulotu has been left at home to recover, and the focus on field will be very much ‘get the win and get out’.

What else are the All Blacks doing this week?

Selling. The whole point of this event is to grow their brand in a new territory, this time the West Coast of the United States.

There will be plenty of media spots and visits to sponsors, presumably to have repetitive conversations about what rugby actually is and why they don’t wear pads and helmets. As well as selling the All Blacks brand, the long term goal here is to build interest in the 2031 Rugby World Cup, which is being held in the USA.

Rieko Ioane scores a try.

Rieko Ioane scores a try against Fiji in Hamilton, in 2021. Photo: Andrew Cornaga /

What’s going to happen?

Fiji certainly have the ability to cause the All Blacks some problems, their previous results indicate they are a much more balanced side than the ones that have come to New Zealand in the past. The average winning margin for the All Blacks in those tests was a staggering 58 points, but it’s a fair call that this one will be slightly closer.

For the All Blacks, they will just want to get in, do their commercial work and get out with a win, because the next challenge is a Rugby Championship competition they haven’t lost in five seasons.


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Fiji News

Late former Deputy PM Professor Tupeni Baba passes away



The late former Deputy Prime Minister, Professor Tupeni Baba has passed away.

University of Fiji Vice Chancellor, Professor Shaista Shameem says not only was Professor Baba the University’s senior-most Professor of Education and Dean of the School of Humanities and Arts, he was also an accomplished scholar, humanitarian and generous colleague.

She says Professor Baba had been a statesman holding ministerial positions as both Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education in past governments and was honoured by all communities in Fiji as a courageous parliamentarian and a true gentleman.

Professor Shameem says Professor Baba had been a Professor at the University of Fiji since 2017.

She says in company with other eminent professors over an eight year period, Professor Baba provided intellectual leadership to his students and, indeed, to the entire University.

Professor Shameem says Professor Baba was kind, good humoured and generous with his time.

She says his students loved him and his faculty admired his resilience and his constant admonition to them all that ‘the curriculum was dead’.

Professor Shameem says certainly the higher authorities sometimes found him difficult to understand so deep was his capacity to express strong feelings about the state of education in Fiji.

She adds the University has lost a great academic, and the nation a deep intellectual – and they will miss him.

She expresses her heartfelt sympathy and condolences to Professor Baba’s dear wife, and their colleague, the Vice Chancellor of the Fiji National University, Professor Unaisi Nabobo-Baba, and to Professor Baba’s family.

Professor Baba had served as a cabinet minister in the government of Doctor Timoci Bavadra until removed from office by the 1987 coups, and then was one of the two Deputy Prime Ministers in the government of Mahendra Chaudhry until they were removed from office by the 2000 coup.

He had founded the New Labour Unity Party to contest the 2001 election, but failed to win a seat in Parliament.

He contested the 2006 election under the former Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua, and again at the 2014 election as part of SODELPA, however he could not make it into Parliament.

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Fiji News

45 years on -Today in History -Plane crash kills nine in Bua ,FIJI which also includes a couple from Gisbourne, Nz and pilot from Melbourne, Australia.



On July 15, 1979, the news of a plane crash that killed nine people shocked Fiji. The story was published in The Fiji Times, saying the Fiji Air Islander crashed on a hill near Bua airstrip on Thursday, July 12.

A search began when villagers found the crashed plane on a hill six miles north-east of the airstrip.

The eight passengers and the pilot all seemed to have died instantly, the Director of Civil Aviation, Mike Varley, said.

Police stood guard over the crash and bodies were brought out by helicopter to Bua, then by fixed-wing transported by plane to Suva.

The crash was the first fatal civil aviation disaster in Fiji.

The twin-engined plane left Nausori Airport on the morning of Thursday, July 12 and was scheduled to arrive at Bua airstrip 40 minutes later.

Villagers living in hills around the airstrip reported later that they had heard the drone of an approaching plane through mist-shrouded hill, and then a crash.

After hearing a broadcast asking Bua people to help with the search, villagers set out and found the wreck on Saturday, July 14.

Mr Varley said they lit a signal fire which was seen by two boys who contacted a police party which had in turn contacted a helicopter, which honed in on the signal fire and landed on a pad the villagers had cut half a mile from the wreck.

The helicopter crew confirmed that all aboard the Islander were dead, Mr Varley said.

Those aboard the plane were, Ruth Manulevu, 53, of Lami; her sister-in-law, Mary Ah Tong, 42, of Vatuvia Road, Lami; Elizabeth Peckham, 30, of Lami and Ms Peckham’s brother, William Peckham, 26, of Lami, Esala Delana of Suva, Aritema Warua, of Macuata, John and Sandy Stevenson of Gisborne, New Zealand; and the pilot, Captain Gary Cope, aged 24, from Melbourne, Australia.


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