Jail time angers robber

As he was sentenced to a lengthy prison stretch for the armed holdup of a car yard, a Palmerston North furniture remover angrily struck the wall of the dock and swore.

Ableshy Te Hau Kaiora Peti Gore Walker, 23, will serve six years and three months in prison for his part in the gunpoint robbery of Palmerston North's Rose City cars on August 6.

During the terrifying ordeal, Walker thrust a rifle into the chest of car yard owner Bruce Herbert, showed him a bullet and said there was another one in the weapon's chamber. The matter was to head to trial last month but Walker changed his plea.

On the day in question, his accomplice, Dylon Robert Sergent, 26, headed to the yard in a vehicle with false number plates.

Sergent tried to steal a Subaru, worth about $37,000, by pretending he wanted to take it for a test drive.

Mr Herbert, a four time New Zealand Rally champion, was having none of that and wanted cash up front, so the robbers put in place their "plan B", Judge Barbara Morris told the Palmerston North District Court yesterday. That involved grabbing a gun from their car and Walker pointing it at Mr Herbert until he handed over the Subaru's keys.

Judge Morris told Walker she sentenced him on the basis that the gun was not loaded.

"You had your finger on the trigger . .

"You then started threatening him - this grandfather - as to whether he had any grandchildren and you demanded the car keys."

The car was found six days later at Sergent's property, where Walker was hiding. Sergent admitted his part in the robbery straight away and is serving a prison sentence.

A victim statement from Mr Herbert says he was terrified and thought he might die. He told the Manawatu Standard he was relieved the ordeal was over and that he didn't have to go to court.

Defence lawyer Simon Hewson told the court the two robbers didn't use disguises and their crude method indicated a lack of planning.

He said Walker was an intelligent but uneducated man and a lengthy jail term would likely be a turning point in his life. "He remembered going to school through to third form, leaving soon after, drifting. His biological father is in jail for 18 years, serving a life sentence for murder."

Judge Morris gave Walker credit for his remorse and guilty plea, saying it spared Mr Herbert from giving evidence. The judge said Walker had lost his job and probably his partner, too, because of his offending.

When Judge Morris said she agreed this could be Walker's turning point, he hit out at the dock and a woman in the courtroom's public gallery yelled that Walker had witnessed his sister getting murdered when he was young.

Walker has served two previous jail terms and had also admitted two charges of driving while disqualified and one each of dangerous driving and drink-driving.

Manawatu Standard