Kidnapper dad jailed three years

SASHA BORISSENKO
Last updated 13:02 24/03/2014

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A man who kidnapped a young child, sparking a police chase, has been sentenced to three years in jail.

Luke James Henry, 29, unemployed, was sentenced in the Nelson District Court last week after admitting charges of kidnapping, assault with a weapon, breaching a protection order, two counts of male assaults female, reckless driving and failing to stop.

Crown prosecutor Sophie O'Donoghue said a protection order was first put in place against Henry in March 2011.

On April 26, 2012 Henry sent a text message to his estranged partner and mother of his children asking to stay the night. The next day, after a dispute with his former partner Henry punched her in the face.

On May 7, 2012, despite the mother's tearful protests, Henry left with their young child in his car.

Police pursued Henry as he drove at 80kmh in a 50kmh zone, crossed the centre line, drove through intersections and overtook other cars. They abandoned the chase for public safety reasons.

A police officer later managed to negotiate with Henry to hand over his son.

When the officer was walking back to his car with the toddler in his arms, he heard Henry rev the engine of his vehicle. He drove towards the policeman forcing him to jump into a ditch.

Henry failed to offer any explanation for his actions at the time of the incident.

Defence lawyer Michael Vesty said that while in custody, Henry had completed bible, first aid and timber processing courses.

He provided a letter of apology outlining how he wanted to one day be a role model for his children.

Judge Tony Zohrab said it was a nasty incident. He took into account the persistent violence against Henry's former partner, the impact on the victims and his lack of genuine remorse.

For example, Henry sent a text message which boasted it was the child's first police chase. The cavalier nature of the text suggested it was as if Henry had posted a photograph on Facebook saying it was a first swimming lesson, Judge Zohrab said.

He sentenced Henry to a total jail term of three years, four months.

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- Nelson

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