Violent 'family men' jailed for 10 years

DAVID CLARKSON
Last updated 16:12 01/02/2013

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Thirteen prison officers, police, and court security staff were present as jail terms of 10 years 6 months were imposed on two heavily-manacled brothers for their violent offending.

Judge Michael Crosbie jailed the pair at a sentencing in the District Court in Christchurch, for offending in Dunedin and Wellington.

He imposed a series of concurrent and cumulative sentences totalling 10 years 6 months and a minimum non-parole term of 50 percent which will have little practical effect - it can only apply on the major armed robbery charge for which a six-year sentence was imposed.

Before the court were Damian Karl Wereta, 32, and Rawiri David Wereta, 29, who both have a violent history but were described in court as being "family men".

Judge Crosbie told them: "If you have some respect for your family, I urge you to do something about your offending behaviour."

Rawiri Wereta has a 10-year-old son in Australia, and Damian Wereta is a father of six.

The pair - and a third co-offender - carried out the late-night hold-up of a convenience store in Dunedin in June 2011, when a person outside the store was bashed unconscious, and the employee inside was also attacked before about $1800 in cash and cigarettes was taken.

The pair were armed with an imitation firearm and a knife.

The brothers confronted prison officers at Rimutaka Prison near Wellington in August 2011, and some were injured in the violence that followed.

Among their victims, people received a broken jaw, dental damage, and bruises. They were left tense and fearful.

Judge Crosbie said he had noted a trend for more assaults on police and Corrections officers in Dunedin.

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They did a difficult job and held a special place in the community. "The courts will endorse the job these people do and the need for them to be safe."

Rawiri Wereta was being sentenced for aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, unlawfully taking a car, injuring with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, possession of an offensive weapon, and three assaults on prison guards with intent to injure.

Damian Wereta was charged with aggravated robbery, unlawfully taking a car, demanding with menaces, breach of prison release conditions and community work, threatening to kill, assaults on three prison officers with intent to injure, and causing grievous bodily harm with intent to injure.

Crown prosecutor Sara Jamieson said the reality of the minimum non-parole term was that the Parole Board would not be considering their release for a considerable period, in any case.

For Rawiri Wereta, Anne Stevens urged the judge to adopt a lower starting point for the sentence he imposed.

For Damian Wereta, Sarah Saunderson-Warner said her client had reached an age where he wished to provide for his family and realised he could not do that from inside a prison cell.

- The Press

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