The long drawn-out process to bring a robber to justice came to an end in the New Plymouth District Court yesterday.
Mathew Kane Tett, 22, appeared before Judge Michael Behrens for sentencing on a charge of aggravated robbery.
Tett was sentenced to four years in jail and Judge Behrens gave him his first-strike warning that if he was convicted of any violence offence in the future he would have to serve the entire sentence without the possibility of parole or early release.
The sentence was handed down 19 months after the crime was committed, during which time Tett changed his plea twice and went on the run to avoid facing jail time.
On May 24, 2011, Tett drove the getaway car for three associates who robbed the Tui Dairy, on Mangorei Rd, of 37 packets of cigarettes valued at $559.50 while armed with a folding pocket knife.
The shop assistant was able to get the registration plate of the getaway car and gave it to police.
Tett pleaded guilty to the charge after his arrest and was convicted in March.
He was remanded on electronic bail for sentencing, in May, after being given an indication he would be imprisoned for three years and two months.
However, Tett went on the run and, because of his previous involvement with another aggravated robbery, involving a firearm, he was placed on the police's most wanted list which was published in the Taranaki Daily News in May.
He was arrested within days but then decided to vacate his earlier guilty plea to the charge and plead not guilty.
Tett went on trial in the New Plymouth District Court this week but changed his plea at the last minute, after the majority of the witnesses had given evidence, and again pleaded guilty.
Crown prosecutor Justin Marinovich said a suitable starting point would be four years imprisonment but asked the sentence to be elevated because of Tett's previous conviction.
Mr Marinovich said a final sentence of four years and two months imprisonment was appropriate.
Defence lawyer Paul Keegan said Tett was aware his co- offenders were going to rob the dairy but he had not been involved in the planning or execution of the robbery.
Mr Keegan asked that Tett receive a reduction in his sentence because his role was not as serious and therefore he was not as culpable as the others.
Judge Behrens disagreed however.
"It has never been said that the driver is less involved as those who go in," he said.
Tett's guilty plea came late after he realised he had trapped himself by an earlier admission he had made, Judge Behrens said.
"You are quite a determined person.
"You will have a go for as long as you can."
He said he had his doubts about Tett's claims he was trying to turn his life around.
"You are full of words but you are not really good when it comes to actions."
- Taranaki Daily News
Will you stay up to watch the Cricket World Cup final?
View marriage and birth notices from around the region
View obituaries from around the region