Armed shoplifter did time for stabbing

DEENA COSTER
Last updated 05:00 19/03/2014

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A woman convicted of the 1998 manslaughter of her neighbour appeared in court yesterday after being found in possession of two knives.

Janine Waiwera Rongonui, 50, pleaded guilty to charges of shoplifting, possession of a knife in a public place and breaching release conditions when she appeared before Judge Paul Whitehead in the Hawera District Court.

Rongonui was jailed for the 1998 killing of her neighbour Pheap Im in Wellington after stabbing her more than 150 times.

The charge was reduced to manslaughter following an appeal and she served a sentence of 10 years' jail before she was released in 2008.

According to the summary of facts, Rongonui was caught shoplifting clothing, accessories and beauty products to the value of $265.35 from the The Warehouse in Hawera on February 22.

Police found a number of the stolen items on the defendant, including a pocket knife and a utility knife.

A full pre-sentence report was requested by the probation officer, who cited ongoing non-compliance and concerns about her ongoing risk.

Rongonui's counsel Alice Leonard said her client had been on medication at the time of the offending and had little recall of it.

She said Rongonui had also recently engaged with Tui Ora to address her mental health issues.

Ms Leonard said her client accepted prison was inevitable and that she wanted to be sentenced straightaway.

However, Judge Paul Whitehead said he was concerned about Rongonui's continued offending.

"There is an escalation in her offending since she was released from prison on the manslaughter charge," he said.

Judge Whitehead remanded Rongonui in custody.

He also ordered a pre-sentence report, which will also consider the outstanding reparation.

She is due to reappear in the Hawera District Court on April 16.

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