Sentenced for bashing hitchhikers

LUKE BALVERT
Last updated 14:42 15/01/2014

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A Tauranga man has been jailed for four years and nine months after being found guilty of bashing and robbing two French tourists in 2012.

Che Teraumate Bridger, 25, was sentenced in Tauranga District Court today after he was found guilty of two counts of aggravated robbery in December, SunLive reported.

Bridger and his cousin Bo Rawiri, 26, picked up two French tourists hitchhiking along State Highway 2 at Te Maunga on July 7, 2012.

They drove to the abandoned Shell service station near the Welcome Bay turnoff and assaulted the two French men, robbing them of most of their possessions.

One of the tourists, who was granted name suppression, said he was sworn at and threatened by the driver before being hit, while Rawiri assaulted the other.

Rawiri is already serving a two-year jail sentence after he admitted his role in the assault and robbery.
He gave evidence against Bridger at his trial and identified him as the driver.

The Crown presented CCTV footage which showed two vehicles fitting the description of that used in the robbery.

The tourists also provided a description of the vehicle, which was later found to belong to Bridger's mother.
Bridger denied any involvement.

His lawyer Tony Balme told Judge Peter Rollo his client did not accept the jury's verdict.

Judge Rollo told Bridger while he could maintain his innocence, he was sufficiently satisfied with the jury's verdict.

He began sentencing at four years but told Bridger his sentence would be longer than Rawiri's as he had prior convictions and was on parole at the time.

Judge Rollo added nine months and ordered Bridger to pay $1500 reparation to his victims on his release from prison.

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- Fairfax Media

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