Jail terms cut on appeal

18:17, Dec 11 2012

Three Blenheim people involved in a string of violent attempted robberies last year have had their prison sentences reduced on appeal.

Tan Junior Ropitini, 23, Tai Hapata Cameron Gorrie, 28, and Rebecca Rose Foster, 23, were originally sentenced to between 2 and 10 years' prison for their roles as part of a group who tried to steal money and drugs from people in two incidents, in February 2011 and again in May 2011.

Three of the incidents were in Blenheim and one in Kaikoura.

In a decision published by the Court of Appeal on Friday, Justices Terence Arnold, Pamela Andrews and Robert Dobson reduced Ropitini's sentence from 10 years to nine years and quashed his minimum jail term of five years.

They also cut Gorrie's sentence from five years to four years, while Foster's was reduced from two years and six months to two years and one month.

Ropitini, who organised the robberies, had admitted two charges of assault with intent to rob, two charges of aggravated robbery, and one each of burglary and threatening grievous bodily harm.


However, the justices found Justice Alan MacKenzie had placed too much weight on Ropitini's previous convictions and the fact he was on bail at the time of the offending, when sentencing him in the High Court at Blenheim on August 2.

They said he should have been given a discount because of his personal circumstances as a young man of "some potential" and the father of two young children.

Gorrie had admitted assault with intent to rob and aggravated robbery, but the appeal judges found he was a minor party in the first incident in February and not involved in the second incident, as suggested by Justice MacKenzie.

Foster had admitted a charge of assault with intent to rob, but the justices found her sentence was too high because she played only a minor role, driving a car during the first incident in February.

Co-offenders James Raymond Marzola, 28, and Nioulini David Fotu, 27 did not appeal their sentences.

Fotu was sentenced to seven years and eight months' jail with a minimum non-parole period of three years and nine months, while Marzola was sentenced to six years and six months with a minimum non-parole period of two years and eight months.

The appeal was heard in Wellington on October 17. Foster was represented by Rob Harrison, Ropitini by Michael Starling, and Gorrie by Pat Butler.