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Gisborne District Court news

A MAN stabbed at a business in Rotorua returned there the following day to pick up his belongings. While he was there he stole a telephone case, Gisborne District Court was told.

Michael Ethan Straker appeared via AV link from prison on a charge of burglary, a breach of his release conditions and driving while disqualified for a third or subsequent time. Judge Turitea Bolstad sentenced him to five-and-half months imprisonment, with disqualification of his licence for a year. He had already served 114 days in prison and that was taken into consideration for calculating his release date.

Counsel Lucy Rishworth told the court the burglary charge was an unusual one. After Straker was stabbed, he received medical assistance. He struggled to find an explanation for taking the phone case from the business, other than that he was under the influence of methamphetamine.

She told the court there were no “aggravated” circumstances to his driving charge.

“The probation report is positive. He has shown insight into his offending and shown motivation to address things . . . a real willingness to change,” she said.

“He wants to break this cycle as he has a real history of being in and out of prison. He appears to be really acknowledging what has gone wrong for him, and the childhood trauma he has never addressed before.”

The judge said she was pleased to hear that his time in custody had given him a chance to reflect on his life, and she allowed him an opportunity to speak.

Straker pleaded with the court for help, as he has not had enough in the past. The judge offered him a seven-week live-in course on a marae on the East Coast. Straker said it would not work because he needed to see his whanau. When told that family members could stay with him on the course, he still turned the offer down.

“We've offered you an opportunity. You don't want to take it, so we'll move on,” the judge said.

“I offered a course, but you indicated you did not want the opportunity and requested to be sentenced today.”

The judge set a starting point for imprisonment of four months, which was uplifted for his breach of release conditions, his driving while disqualified charge and for previous convictions. The final sentence was discounted for his early guilty plea and the trauma he had experienced as a child.

TWO men were smoking methamphetamine at a house in Gisborne when one of them became violent.

Tray Gray, 19, picked up a hammer and demanded the contents of his associate's pockets, his sneakers and his bank account details.

Gray struck the complainant in the ribs with the hammer, then several times in the head before the man escaped and sought medical attention.

Gray was sentenced to three months home detention.

Counsel Alistair Clarke told the court Gray had completed three weeks of a previous rehabilitation programme and there had been no problems with his compliance.

“All of that indicates he has moved beyond his earlier more juvenile position to court orders,” Mr Clarke said.

“The appropriate end sentence would be home detention with post-detention conditions.”

He told the court Gray would be welcomed into a marae-based programme, starting on June 9. Gray had already spent 260 days in custody, which would reduce his end sentence.

Judge Turitea Bolstad applied discounts, Gray's early guilty plea, a cultural report and Gray's motivation to address his behaviour to arrive at the electronically-monitored sentence.

“The Crown has indicated it would support a sentence to continue his rehabilitation, and I will step back from a term of imprisonment.”

Brenna McKenzie, for the Crown, said Gray's use of a weapon, the assault to the head, the impact on the complainant and the property stolen were aggravating factors. A four-and-a-half year sentence of imprisonment would be an acceptable starting point for sentencing.

The judge said Gray had made good progress at his previous programme of rehabilitation and had taken a leadership role among participants. She accepted that he had some insight into his offending. A cultural report considered his difficult childhood, which had included violence and disruption.

“I accept that while you haven't been clear about your remorse, having perused the information that I have before me and having seen your success at the programme, I accept that you are remorseful, so I will offer you a further discount for that,” she said.

As well as the three months home detention, six months post-detention conditions were imposed, including that Gray attend a further rehabilitation programme.

A MAN and his partner were drinking when the woman made a comment about the man's mother and he threw a bottle at her, which hit her in the face.

Gisborne District Court was told he had “exploded” over the comment.

Paratene The Third Jones-Swannell was sentenced to three months home detention for the incident, which left his former partner with a wound to the head. Judge Turitea Bolstad said it was unfortunate that Jones-Swannell did not take advantage of the intervention court earlier, and had now found himself back in court.

Counsel Jackie Van Schalkwyk told the judge that Jones-Swannell was now living with his older brother and his older brother's partner, that he had self-referred to drug and alcohol counselling and had now been substance-free for three to four weeks.

She submitted that an appropriate sentence for Jones-Swannell would be community detention.

The judge noted that Jones-Swannell had previously attended a rehabilitation course but had not gained the strategies or skills to maintain a safe relationship.

His older brother and partner had made it clear to him that he had to abide by their rules. They also confirmed Jones-Swannell struggled with his mother's passing and that his relationship with his partner was now at an end.

Jones-Swannell provided the court with written confirmation of his employment.

The judge imposed a nine-month term of imprisonment as the starting point, because the attack had involved the use of a weapon (the bottle) and it was an attack to the head although the injury sustained was minor. Neither was the attack premeditated or prolonged.

She did not uplift the sentence for previous convictions, but discounted it for his early guilty plea and the efforts he had made to improve his personal circumstances.

She converted the final sentence to one of home detention, and thanked Jones-Swannell's older brother who was in court, and his partner, for offering their home for him to serve his sentence.

A YOUNG man overcame “huge” difficulties to obtain his learner's licence since offending six times by driving while disqualified. The court heard that Jerome Te Maro was illiterate and, unable to sit for a licence, had been driving illegally.

The court sentenced him to three months community detention, followed by six months supervision.

Counsel Nicola Wright told the court Te Maro had completed an earlier sentence of intensive supervision successfully and was now working in a packhouse. Although he faced six driving charges, these were the first times he had offended, she said.

The offending had taken place in late 2020 and early 2021, and Judge Bolstad said it was evident that Te Maro's problem was not having a driving licence. She acknowledged the work he had done to overcome his difficulties, and said it was “absolutely huge”.

“I acknowledge that can't have been an easy task and I take my hat off to you.”

She set a starting point of 11 months imprisonment, and afforded Te Maro a discount for his early guilty plea and his motivation to address his offending behaviour. The final sentence was converted to home detention.

Judge Bolstad said it was in the public interest for Te Maro to maintain his licence.

THE court imposed a sentence on Trina Joanne Walsh that would allow her to resume being a contributing member of the community, and to return to her children.

Walsh pleaded guilty to a number of trespass and theft charges, which had all occurred over a short period from September to November 2021, and were fuelled by her methamphetamine addiction. She was sentenced to 15 months of intensive supervision, which would provide for her continued rehabilitation.

Counsel Manaaki Terekia told the court $3500 was the total sum of losses to businesses. Walsh had already spent 82 days on electronically-monitored bail and 64 days in custody.

Judge Turitea Bolstad said Walsh had committed no further offences, and Walsh's mother had written an in-depth, open and honest letter, detailing their family background and circumstances that had led to Walsh's addiction.

“I have received a police submission and you were close today to receiving a lot harsher sentence,” the judge said.

Police had sought a starting point of 12 months imprisonment, and were seeking additional terms of imprisonment of three months for other offences.

The judge afforded Walsh a discount for her early guilty plea, her personal circumstances and the time she had already spent in custody and on electronically-monitored bail.

“I am going to step back from a sentence of imprisonment or an electronically-monitored sentence,” she said.

“The reason is because as I indicated, while there are a large number of charges, they relate to theft to support her addiction.

“I acknowledge your sister, who is here to support you today, and she confirms the best place is back with your children.

“You are lucky to have the support of your mum and whanau, I hope for the sake of your babies you don't go down this path again.”

The court imposed reparation of $3500.

ARONA Alexander Shane Taylor faces a charge of wilful damage and three charges of failing to answer bail. Counsel Leighvi Maynard told the court Taylor had not appeared. A warrant was issued for his arrest.

JOHNIIEB Hazae-Llanasa Peachey faces a charge of assault on a person in a family relationship and failed to appear in court. Police sought a warrant for his arrest and the judge granted the request.