Judge apologises to tourists over attack

MARTY SHARPE
Last updated 05:00 25/03/2014

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A judge has told a young French couple attacked with a pistol on their visit to New Zealand that he is "embarrassed and ashamed" by what happened to them.

Judge Jonathan Down made the remark to each of the victims, after they gave evidence against Chardine Andrews in Napier District Court yesterday.

"On behalf of the community here in Hawke's Bay and New Zealand . . . what happened to you was dreadful, and we are embarrassed and ashamed of [it]. I hope it won't stop you from coming back to New Zealand in the future."

Andrews, 28, is on trial for assault with intent to rob in relation to the attack, about 10pm on October 19 last year.

Crown lawyer Josh Lucas told the court Andrews held a pistol to the head of the male tourist as he sat in the couple's car. "She held the pistol to his head in an effort to rob him and his girlfriend of their possessions."

He said the trial would come down to identity. The Crown said the woman was Andrews. She claimed it was not.

Lucas said the Frenchman, 22, and woman, 23, were backpackers travelling with all their luggage in their car. They had arrived in Auckland a few weeks earlier.

On the night in question, they parked in a car park in Whakarire Ave, in the suburb of Westshore. They were getting ready to sleep when another car arrived.

They described the car as "noisy" and said its stereo was playing Beyonce loudly. Two people got out of the car.

The woman, who the Crown alleges was Andrews, approached the tourists' car and asked the man for a cigarette lighter. He handed it over.

Through an interpreter, the couple separately described the woman pulling out a pistol and holding it against the man's right temple.

The man said he had not expected that. He said a few words in French then batted the gun away.

"I did not want it pointed at my head."

The attacker, who was telling the couple to open the car boot, retaliated by hitting him under his eye with the pistol, causing a deep cut.

The man pushed her away and wound up the car window, at which point the male assailant opened the back door and tried to push the man out.

The Crown alleges Andrews then attempted to get in the passenger door.

The Frenchman began beeping the car horn and the assailants ran back to their car and drove away. The woman managed to get the registration plate.

Police matched the plate to Andrews. The next day officers went to her house in Hastings, where they found the car and imitation pistols in her garage.

The trial is expected to end today.

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- The Dominion Post

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