Violent robber 'sees the light'

BELINDA FEEK
Last updated 08:02 18/09/2012

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A former Black Power gang associate claims to have "seen the light" after being charged for his part in an aggravated robbery in Hamilton last year.

Anthony Chase Kuhtz was yesterday jailed for his part in the attack, in which he and his friends forced a man to drive around town before they made him withdraw cash for the group. But Hamilton District Court heard Kuhtz had "seen the light" and had been involved in Christian programmes at Waikeria Prison over the past 11 months.

Court documents stated the victim drove a female friend, who was known to Kuhtz, and her children to the Bader St shops about 8pm on October 20 last year.

The woman and the children went into the store when the victim was spied by Kuhtz, who jumped in the front passenger seat and asked for a ride.

After the woman and children returned to the car and were driven home, Kuhtz asked the man to drive him to nearby Willis St, where two others jumped in the vehicle.

Kuhtz then demanded the victim drive them to a money machine and withdraw cash. The victim was punched several times in the face when he refused.

The victim hunched over and tried to protect himself by covering his head and face, and was continually beaten until he complied with the demands.

He drove the trio back to the Bader St shops but an attempt to withdraw $400 was declined. The unsuccessful withdrawal infuriated Kuhtz and his associates further, so the victim drove them to another ATM in the central city.

He returned to the car with $320 and demanded the trio get out of his car.

The victim then drove home. He suffered bruising and swelling to his left cheek and ears, cuts to his head and face and a haemorrhage to his left eye.

Kuhtz's lawyer, Charles Bean, said a pre-sentence report "indicates this man has, to some extent, found the light - were the words used by probation".

Kuhtz was involved in a Christian group at the jail and hoped to take part in a restorative justice conference with the victim. "But, given what's occurred, that's probably not on the table," Mr Bean said. Kuhtz was not the lead offender in the incident, Mr Bean said, and he had expressed genuine remorse also by writing letters to his victim and the judge.

Mr Bean said Kuhtz had also "distanced" himself from his gang connections and had completed a Pathways and first-aid course in jail.

"He hasn't been sitting on his laurels out there at Waikeria," Mr Bean said.

But Crown prosecutor Sheila Cameron was sceptical of Kuhtz's apparent conversion, and doubted that he felt remorse. She said a pre-sentence report showed Kuhtz was still trying to shift blame on to his co-accused.

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Ms Cameron said Kuhtz's contradictory behaviour indicated his apology letters should taken as "insincere and self-serving".

Judge Peter Spiller sentenced Kuhtz to two years and eight months behind bars and ordered reparation of $400 on charges of aggravated robbery and assault. Kuhtz was also issued a three-strikes warning on the aggravated robbery charge. 

- © Fairfax NZ News

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