A Sanson man has been jailed for his part in the "rather amateurish" armed robbery of a Palmerston North car yard where a valuable modified car was taken and a car salesman was left shaken.
Dylon Robert Sergent, 25, admitted a charge of aggravated robbery for his role in the August 6 heist, as well as a count of burglary for a separate incident in June.
In Palmerston North District Court yesterday Sergent was sentenced to five years and 7 months' jail.
The court heard that Sergent and an accomplice visited Rose City Cars on the corner of Grey and Ngata streets and inquired about a modified Subaru worth $36,996.
Car salesman Bruce Herbert, who is well-known in rally circles and is a four-time Rally of New Zealand champion, refused to let the two take the car for a test drive, first because it had no warrant and, when that was sorted, because he wanted to see some money first. A court summary said Sergent's accomplice threatened Mr Herbert with a .308 rifle.
He handed over the keys and Sergent tried to drive the car away but couldn't start it at first.
Mr Herbert told the Manawatu Standard the sentence was about what he had expected.
He had been visited by Sergent's father and said he "understood where he was coming from".
"I don't think I'm over it but I have put it to the back of my mind," Mr Herbert said.
He had received an insurance payout for the car.
In court, Judge David Smith labelled the robbery "rather amateurish".
"How you thought that you were going to get away with it, is beyond comprehension.
"I can only assume it was due to the fact that you and the co-defendant were not thinking as normal sober people."
Defence lawyer Steve Winter said the robbery and burglary happened "during a brief period in this young man's life when he lapsed into behaviour that's foreign to him".
Sergent had flirted with what might have seemed a "glamorous lifestyle" involving criminals, drugs and drink.
"He went along with that.
"He made bad decisions and he must accept the consequences of that," Mr Winter said.
About 20 family and friends supported Sergent from the public gallery and Mr Winter said his client's behaviour was contrary to the way he was raised.
"His family are honest, decent people . . . He had let them down and he had let himself down and he knows that."
Sergent had been on bail while awaiting sentence and, Mr Winter said, the atmosphere at his home was "almost funereal" ahead of yesterday's hearing.
- Manawatu Standard
Do you own your home?Related story: Hot house prices lure buyers to provinces