News from Tauranga District Court


A Tauranga woman who took part in the brutal beating and abduction of a 17-year-old girl in September has been sentenced to 12 months' home detention and 200 hours' community work.

Moewaka Biddle-Sevaki, 21, who last month pleaded guilty to one charge of kidnapping and injuring with intent to injure, and an unrelated charge of malicious use of a telephone, was sentenced in the Tauranga District Court yesterday.

The victim's harrowing experience was revealed in the Tauranga District Court last month, when the six-page police summary of facts was read.

The court heard that Biddle-Sevaki and two other woman, including her whangai mother, Kelly Patricia Purewa, 32, had repeatedly punched and kicked the victim before dragging her by her hair into a car after she pulled a gang sign at them while out walking in Opotiki on September 23.

The victim was then driven around Opotiki for almost two hours during which she was threatened, and repeatedly told by Purewa she would be taken to a river and drowned if she did not disclose the location of a male associate.

Every time the victim tried to escape the car, Biddle-Sevaki pulled her hair and on one occasion punched her in the face.

Eventually the victim was driven to the Waiokea River, dragged down to the water's edge and threatened again before Biddle-Sevaki intervened and the victim was left on a riverbank.

Judge Thomas Ingram told Biddle-Sevaki that given her lesser role in the offending, her stepping in to stop the assault continuing, and the rehabilitative steps she had taken, he was prepared to step back from a jail sentence.

Purewa, who admitted her offending, was jailed on December 6 for three years and three months.

P absconder gets 17 years

A 57-year-old man arrested near Katikati in September after more than two years on the run after failing to turn up to his P-manufacture and dealing trial has been jailed for 17 years and nine months.

Steven Mehrtens, whose hideaway was discovered by the team working on murder of Paeroa businessman Jordan Voudouris, was sentenced in the High Court at Auckland yesterday on raft of methamphetamine charges, including the making of between $3 million and $4 million of P.

Mehrtens was originally arrested and charged on May 18, 2010 as part of Operation Acacia, a police investigation into the manufacture and sale of methamphetamine.

He was granted electronic bail, but absconded after removing his monitoring bracelet. After failing to turn up for his trial in December last year, Mehrtens was convicted in his absence in the High Court at Auckland on charges of conspiracy to deal methamphetamine, manufacturing methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine for supply and selling the drug.

His co-offender Scott Warren Filer from Waihi was sentenced to 17 years three months' jail in February.

Mehrtens was also sentenced in the Tauranga District Court on October 1 this year to two months' jail after he pleaded guilty to a charge of wilful damage which related to his cutting off his electronic-monitoring bracelet in December 2010.

A 51-year-old Katikati woman has been charged in relation to Mehrtens' attempts to avoid detection.


Jail for bashing taxi driver


One of the three men who admitted bashing and robbing a Tauranga taxi driver in September has been jailed for three years nine months, while his disillusioned victim had returned to Pakistan.

Avenues man Joshua Strickland, 21, who earlier pleaded guilty to a joint charge of aggravated robbery, was sentenced in the Tauranga District Court on Tuesday.

The robbery occurred after 43-year-old taxi driver Kamal MD Hossain had picked Strickland and his two associates up near the rail crossing in Matapihi Rd late on the evening of September 26 this year.

As well as $400 cash, car keys and an iPod were taken.

Judge Thomas Ingram said it was clear that Strickland, who had a bad history of offending which included prior robbery and burglary convictions, was the instigator of the aggravated robbery.

The judge said despite Strickland's letter of apology produced yesterday, he did not accept he was remorseful "in the slightest" and clearly lacked true insight into his offending.

The court was also told that even if Strickland had found the courage to front at a restorative justice meeting, Mr Hossain had since returned to his home country of Pakistan because of what had been done to him.

Strickland's co-offender Tyson James Duncan, 17, of Maungatapu, who also pleaded guilty to the joint charge of aggravated robbery, was jailed for two years eight months earlier this month.

The third alleged member of the robbery trio has been committed to trial.


Home detention for teen


The Tauranga teen jailed for 20 months for setting fire to the Life Education mobile classroom in September has had the remainder of his sentence converted to seven months' home detention.

On September 21 Zachary Lance Fitzpatrick, 17, was jailed after earlier pleading guilty to the arson of the mobile classroom worth $225,000 which had been parked at Brookfield Primary School on the evening of June 12.

Fitzpatrick had been drinking for a couple of hours before he walked through the fields of the school about 6pm on the day of the fire.

Once on the school grounds, he smashed a window of the mobile classroom with a rock and entered it.

Once inside he used a lighter to set fire to some curtains and a poster. He remained inside as the fire spread until the smoke forced him to flee through the unit's back door.

Once outside he stood and watched as the mobile classroom went up in flames before phoning the Fire Service and telling them the location of the blaze.

Fitzpatrick hid in the netball courts and watched the fire crews putting out the fire.

The mobile classroom and its contents were destroyed resulting in between $250,000 and $260,000 damages.

In the Tauranga District Court yesterday Fitzpatrick's lawyer, Nicholas Dutch, submitted that Fitzpatrick's jail sentence should be substituted with home detention as the initial concerns about the proposed address no longer applied after one of the occupants had moved out.

Judge Louis Bidois sentenced Fitzpatrick to seven months' home detention and 120 hours' community work but warned him to strictly comply with his sentence or face returning to prison.

No reparation has been ordered as Fitzpatrick is not in position to pay it.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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