A deportee who strangled his girlfriend three times in the space of an hour could have been “seconds away from killing her”, a judge says.

And Lokenitama Filipo’s victim, in a statement before the Dunedin District Court, said she worried the 38-year-old would kill her when he was released from prison.

He was jailed for two years three months recently after pleading guilty to a representative charge of strangulation the week before his trial was due to start.

Filipo told Probation before sentencing that he was still in love with his victim but counsel Noel Rayner said that comment was “conciliatory” and he stressed his client accepted the relationship was over.

The couple were at a Balclutha home on March 28 last year when an argument arose over alcohol.

Filipo pursued the woman into the hallway, grabbed her by the hair and hauled her to the floor.

He rolled her on to her back then throttled her with both hands while yelling abuse, then released one hand which he forced into her mouth.

Once the two-minute strangling was over, the defendant dragged her into the bedroom as she pleaded with him to call an ambulance.

Filipo shut a door on the victim’s thumb, ripping the skin from it.

Her retreat to the shower to clean the blood from her face marked a brief postponement in the violence.

Once she got out, Filipo again attacked her from the rear, placing so much pressure on her neck that the woman lost control of her bodily functions.

The mess prompted another shower.

When the naked victim returned to the bedroom the defendant became angry again, pushed her on to the bed and climbed on top.

The woman’s teenage nephew walked into the room to see the unfolding assault until Filipo closed the door, the court heard.

After another strangulation, during which he again crammed fingers inside the victim’s mouth, the man pushed her down and began “biting at her face”.

Filipo head-butted his then partner, struck her in the jaw and thwarted the woman’s escape from a window by wrapping an electrical cable around her waist.

Ultimately, she managed to break free, taking the man’s cellphone and calling police.

“This behaviour was just totally appalling,” Judge Jim Large said.

“You may have been seconds away from killing her.

“That’s the harsh reality of strangulation.”

The victim suffered a broken tooth, skinned thumbs and soreness to her face and neck, but the emotional harm was probably greater, the judge said.

Rayner told the court Filipo had written a “heartfelt” apology to the woman and recently rediscovered religion.

“He’s indicated that aspect of his life is something he intends to return to and give emphasis to going forward,” he said.

Rayner also provided the judge with a portfolio of his client’s drawings, which included a sketch of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

“To be frank it’s really, really impressive stuff,” said Judge Large.

“The artwork indicates potential for your future.

“Whether you use this positively or waste it, it’s up to you.”

Filipo, he said, was a reflection of his “very sad” upbringing.

The court heard he had also been forcibly split from family when he was deported from Australia.

“Nothing is going to change that, though, you have to accept that,” he said.

A protection order was granted in favour of the victim.

Support services available:

• 211 Helpline (0800 211 211) – for help finding, and direct transfer to, community-based health and social support services in your area.

• Find your Local Women’s Refuge by calling 0800 743 843 (0800 REFUGE) to be linked up with an advocate in your area.

• Victim Support – call 0800 842 846. 24-hour service for all victims of serious crime.

• Victim Information Line/Victim Centre – call 0800 650 654 or email [email protected]

• Shine domestic abuse services – free call 0508 744 633 (9am to 11pm) if you’re experiencing domestic abuse, or want to know how to help someone else.

• Family violence information line – call 0800 456 450 to find out about local services or how to help someone near you.

• Elder Abuse Helpline – call 0800 32 668 65 (0800 EA NOT OK) – a 24-hour service answered by registered nurses who can connect to local elder abuse specialist providers.

• Tu Wahine Trust – call 09 838 8700 for kaupapa Māori counselling, therapy and support for survivors of sexual harm (mahi tukino) and violence within whānau.

• Shakti New Zealand – call 0800 742 584 for culturally competent support services for women, children and families of Asian, African and Middle Eastern origin who have experienced domestic violence.

• Safe to Talk – sexual harm helpline. Call 0800 044 334, text 4334 or email [email protected]

• Rape Crisis Centres – call 0800 88 3300 for contact details of your local centre. Provides support for survivors of sexual abuse, their families, friends and whānau.

• Male Survivors Aotearoa New Zealand – call 0800 044 344. Offers one-to-one, peer and support groups for male survivors of sexual abuse and their significant others.

• Tu Wahine Trust – call 09 838 8700 for kaupapa Māori counselling, therapy and support for survivors of sexual harm (mahi tukino) and violence within whānau.

• ACC Sensitive Claims Unit – call 0800 735 566 for access to services related to sexual abuse or sexual assault.

• Hey Bro helpline – call 0800 HeyBro (0800 439 276). 24/7 help for men who feel they’re going to harm a loved one or whānau member.

• Korowai Tumanoko – text or call 022 474 7044 for a kaupapa Māori service for those with concerning or harmful sexual behaviour.

• Stop – support for concerning or harmful sexual behaviour.

• Need to Talk? 1737 – free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor.

• Youthline – call 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email [email protected]

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