Threats terrified victim during detention

JIMMY ELLINGHAM
Last updated 12:53 28/05/2013
Rhys Billett, Peter Ross and Colin Smith.
MURRAY WILSON/Fairfax NZ

IN THE DOCK: From left; Rhys Billett, Peter Ross and Colin Smith.

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Three men have admitted detaining a 54-year-old overnight and threatening him with an imitation gun, a handsaw, a rasp file and a blow torch in an attempt to make him confess to "narking".

The terrified victim was also urinated on and told his feet would be cut off.

Feilding pair Rhys Valentine Billett, 37, and Peter James Ross, 34, and Colin Peter Smith, 31, of Whangaehu, were to have faced trial in the Palmerston North District Court yesterday for their actions overnight on March 13 last year.

After some negotiation, a charge of kidnapping was dropped and the three pleaded guilty to intimidation offences instead, much to the relief of the victim.

"I'm glad it's over. I didn't have to stand and face them," the man, now 55, said.

"Now that I'm hopefully over it, I just wanted them to acknowledge what they did - and they have.

"I don't think they want to go through it again themselves."

The victim is now back in work and said a sense of normality had returned to his life.

He no longer feared retaliation.

The man's ordeal dated back to November 2011, when Smith was at his son's party.

Police were called and Smith was charged for his actions that night and sentenced in court the following February, after which he accused the victim of being a nark.

On the evening of March 13, the victim arranged to go to Ross' house in Queen St, Feilding, for a cannabis deal. He arrived to find Billett and Smith there too.

"[The victim] was told to sit in a chair in the kitchen," Crown prosecutor Ben Vanderkolk said.

From there he was then interrogated, with his three captors asking him why he "narked" on Smith.

"Ross threatened [the victim] with various weapons, including a handsaw, a rasp file, a knife and a blow torch.

"At one point Ross produced an imitation firearm and threatened to shoot [the victim] if he did not say who had phoned police," Vanderkolk said.

Ross threatened to blow the victim's knees off but still he refused to admit to anything. Ross then pretended to fire the imitation firearm.

The victim was also told his feet would be cut off, his throat slit and the rasp file would be inserted in his rectum, while his shoes were urinated on.

He was eventually hustled into a bedroom, where he had a "fitful" night's sleep.

Smith left the property but Ross and Billett stayed on and drank.

Loud music shielded two children in the house from what was happening.

Next morning, Ross and Billett drove the victim to his house and then to work.

They kept his car and said the victim would not get it back unless he spilled the beans.

Once the victim got to work, he told his employer what had happened and phoned police.

Ross was arrested that day, Smith handed himself in later and Billett was found the next month.

When talking to police, Smith initially claimed he, too, was held hostage by Ross and Billett and threatened with a gun.

Judge Mike Behrens described the ordeal as a "bizarre narrative".

"The [victim] was not injured physically but his victim impact statement graphically described the terror he suffered as a result of the threats you made," Judge Behrens told Billett, Ross and Smith.

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The three all admitted one charge each of threatening to do grievous bodily harm and acting threateningly, while Billett and Ross also pleaded guilty to a charge of unlawfully taking a motor vehicle.

Billett was jailed for 21 months, Ross for 18 and Smith for six, although he was granted leave to apply for home detention.

They all received discounts for their guilty pleas and time served in custody awaiting trial or on restricted bail.

- Manawatu Standard

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