Love to go to jail

A former Blenheim man has been found guilty of robbing two tourists of $300. In the Blenheim District Court on Friday, Jamie Ngatata Love, 36, of Christchurch was found guilty of the Blenheim robbery.

Judge Denys Barry said it was inevitable Love would be sent to prison and remanded him in custody for sentencing on February 5.

He also gave Love his first strike warning under the three strikes law.

When he heard it was a strike offence, Love mimed swinging a bat and muttered strike before smiling at a supporter in the gallery.

However, when he heard he would be sent to prison, Love appeared upset and swore loudly twice as he left the dock.

The victims said in their evidence that Love befriended them at The Warehouse and seemed friendly when they agreed to give him a ride home. When they dropped him off as directed on Meehan St in Blenheim, his manner changed and he leaned back in the car door and asked if they had any money before demanding their wallets in a threatening manner.

Constable Nicholas Cooke, of Blenheim, also gave evidence that Love had been convicted of two similar offences in 2005 and 2008.

In 2005, Love had asked a 17-year-old in Christchurch for a ride only to attack him and try to steal his money.

In 2009, he approached two Korean tourists in a car in Blenheim and asked to borrow a lighter then demanded money, assaulted them, and tried to steal their laptops.

Crown prosecutor Sophie O'Donoghue said the robberies showed Love's pattern of offending and the method he used to rob people.

Love admitted stealing $300 from the pair on January 2, but denied threatening them and demanding the money, saying they gave it to him to buy drugs.

Speaking in his own defence, he claimed the previous offences were different as he had been high on solvents for the first one and had stopped taking his medication for bi-polar disorder before the second.

He insisted the pair arranged to buy drugs and lied about him demanding the money, but agreed he could be considered physically threatening as he was 1.85 metres tall and "morbidly obese" at 144 kilograms.

The jury of seven women and five men took just under three hours to reach their verdict that Love was guilty of robbery.

The Marlborough Express