Man jailed for his part in theft

JIMMY ELLINGHAM
Last updated 08:00 22/12/2012

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Brandishing guns and a cattle prod, a group of Black Power gang associates planned to steal a Mercedes-Benz.

But their plan was thwarted when they could not start the car, so instead they took the tyres and held two people at gunpoint.

One of them, Poto Douglas Wiremu Whatuira, 24, of Palmerston North, has been sentenced to five years and eight months' jail for his "background" involvement.

The theft took place on the evening of November 23 last year when Whatuira and several others went to a Palmerston North property.

"Members of your group were armed - one with a shotgun," Judge Les Atkins told Whatuira in the Palmerston North District Court yesterday.

"Some members of the group had blue bandannas over their faces and dark clothing. The clothing makes clear an association with Black Power."

Whatuira remained in the background while two others knocked at the door and a shotgun was pointed at the male householder.

Whatuira's associates demanded the keys to the Mercedes in the driveway, as a cattle prod was also waved around threateningly.

"The owner of the vehicle was told there were two carloads of males parked outside," Judge Atkins said.

The man and woman at the house told their attackers they did not have any keys for the Mercedes and, anyway, it did not go.

Instead they offered the group keys for a different car. This was turned down and Whatuira and the others propped the Mercedes on bricks and stole its mag wheels and tyres, valued at $3500.

One of the victims recognised Whatuira, who was wearing a Black Power leather vest.

Soon after, police searched his home and found a double-barrel shotgun, and five cannabis plants.

A search of Whatuira's phone records showed he had sent and received text messages about the plan to take the car.

Judge Atkins said it was accepted that Whatuira did not go into the victims' house, nor did he wave the shotgun around.

However, a victim impact statement from the woman said that she had become "a wreck" after the robbery. She had since moved to Australia and been diagnosed with depression.

Whatuira admitted charges of aggravated robbery and cannabis cultivation. On the positive side, he had since ended his Black Power involvement and would move away from Palmerston North to be with his partner when freed from jail, Judge Atkins said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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