Not guilty of car-jacking

A New Plymouth jury has found a Hawera woman not guilty of aggravated robbery when she took back a car registered in her name.

Shannon Thompson, 32,  denied she and Joel Jonothan Broughton, 34, acted jointly to rob Cassandra Denholm-Osbourne of a 1992 BMW sedan on Vivian St about 1pm  on May 10 last year.

The jury took two hours yesterday to return a unanimous not guilty verdict to claps and smiles from about six people sitting in the public gallery.

Earlier in closing the defence case, Thompson's lawyer Kelly Marriner argued that Thompson had ''the colour of right'' to take the car, believing that it was still hers because, despite it being sold on to several people, it was still registered in her name.

She had never intended to keep it but wanted the $660 accrued in fines by one of the previous owners paid off before she returned it.

Thompson had not assaulted anyone, nor was she charged with assault, Mrs Marinner said.

She did not get out of her car on Vivian St. It was Broughton who drove off in the car, Mrs Marriner said.

Earlier, Crown prosecutor Sarah Law told the jury Thompson was the main instigator of the robbery.

 She wanted the car, which was legally no longer hers, because she was about to be jailed for non-payment of fines.

This was her motive in intimidating and ''standing over'' Ms Osbourne and demanding that she pay her $5000. She had also taken Ms Osbourne's driver's licence. 

Thompson used violence in grabbing Ms Osbourne by the scruff of the neck, pulling her out of the car and holding her around her neck until Broughton took the keys from her and drove off, Ms Law said.

In discharging the jury, Judge Allan Roberts thanked them saying the case was not a straight-forward matter. 

Co-accused Thompson was jailed for 21 months for the aggravated robbery and driving while suspended when he pleaded guilty on Wednesday prior to the start of the trial.

Taranaki Daily News