Whakatane man Paul Kingsbury today begins a prison term of almost seven years, after admitting robbing two banks at gunpoint. An industrial accident left Paul Kingsbury with horrific burns to 40 per cent of his body, and unable to work.
But the 42-year-old Whakatane man squandered his redundancy and ACC payouts on a gambling addiction, an addiction which eventually led him to rob two Bay banks at gunpoint in a desperate cash grab.
Kingsbury's downward spiral hit rock bottom yesterday when he appeared in Tauranga District Court and was jailed for six years and eight months for the two robberies, at BNZ banks in Greerton and Te Puke.
On September 5 last year, Kingsbury walked into the BNZ at Greerton, carrying a bag holding a loaded long-barrelled SKS semi-automatic firearm, police said.
He was wearing a beanie over his head, sunglasses, and a piece of material over his face from the nose down.
Pulling out the firearm, Kingsbury demanded bank staff fill his bag with money, telling the bank's acting manager "you know what to do, you know what I want" and "don't muck me around".
Motioning with the firearm, Kingsbury ordered one woman customer to remain in the bank, and later shepherded another woman customer into the same area.
As Kingsbury left the bank with $10,600 cash, he threatened to return unless the bank manager waited five minutes before calling police.
The second robbery occurred on December 4, when Kingsbury went to BNZ at Te Puke.
Again disguising himself and entering the bank with the loaded semi-automatic rifle in a bag, Kingsbury ordered tellers to give him money.
Six staff members and three customers were in the bank during the robbery.
Kingsbury left with $3817 but was seen by police while driving on State Highway 2 near Matata.
In an effort to evade the police, Kingsbury discarded the large bag, the firearm, some of the clothing he wore in the Te Puke robbery, and all of the cash taken in the Te Puke robbery, at a layby near a holiday park in Matata.
However, he was arrested a short time later, and police recovered the money taken in the Te Puke robbery.
Kingsbury admitted robbing both banks, but told police he would not have used the firearm on anyone.
However, he said he would have fired some shots into the air to prevent people from interfering with his plans.
He carried out the first robbery as he was in "a desperate financial situation", was struggling to meet his basic needs, owed a lot of money, and could not see any other way to ease his hardship.
He committed the second robbery after using up all the money taken in the first.
Kingsbury's lawyer, David Bates, said Kingsbury had been "a pretty industrious member of society" and had been with the same employer for 22 years, until suffering horrific burns in an industrial accident.
Kingsbury spent up to two years in a medical suit following the accident, which left him with burns to 40 per cent of his body.
Judge Peter Rollo said while Kingsbury claimed he would not use the firearm on anyone, there was still the potential for violence.
"There was an inevitable fear engendered in the tellers and members of the public by what was happening before them.
"This was very serious, dangerous offending by you, and it's very good fortune that no-one was injured seriously, or killed, by what you were undertaking," he said.
Kingsbury, who had earlier pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated robbery, and one of driving while disqualified, was further disqualified from driving for six months from April 30 this year.
He also received a two-month concurrent prison sentence on the driving charge.
Kingsbury's car was to be confiscated and sold, with the proceeds to go towards $10,600 reparation ordered to be paid to the Greerton BNZ.