Jail for beating, robbing tourists

By Sandra Conchie

A man who bashed and robbed two French tourists in Papamoa has been jailed for two years and ordered to pay $1500 to his two victims.

Bo-Tamati Rawiri, 26, from Ngaruawahia, who earlier pleaded guilty to two charges of aggravated robbery, was sentenced by Judge Peter Rollo in Tauranga District Court yesterday.

The 21-year-old tourists were hitchhiking from Tauranga to Rotorua on the afternoon of July 7, 2012 when they were picked up by Rawiri and his associate. The pair were then driven to the abandoned Shell service station on State Highway 2, at Papamoa, where they were beaten and robbed.

The men suffered minor injuries and both had valuable document wallets ripped from around their necks during the attack.

The pair lost significant personal items, including backpacks, cash, watches, cellphones, passports and other travel documents and had to seek replacements from France.

Both victims have since returned to France.

Judge Rollo told Rawiri his actions had resulted in significant loss and inconvenience to his victims and "no doubt a loss of their dignity as well".

"Their view of this country will also no doubt be significantly coloured by what happened," the judge said.

However, he accepted Rawiri was remorseful and had insight into his offending.

"You have been co-operative with the police in assisting with the recovery of some of the property stolen and you have expressed a determination to do better.

"You say in your letter that you recognise how your actions have impacted on New Zealand as a tourist destination, and also recognise the harm you have done to this community ...

"It is a real shame you didn't have that forethought at the time," the judge said in court. Rawiri's alleged co-offender has denied any involvement in the robberies and is headed to trial.

Outside court Rawiri's partner, four-week-old son and other family members briefly spoke to the Bay of Plenty Times.

His partner, who did not wish to be named, said Rawiri had made a "grave error of judgment", which he deeply regretted and knew he must pay for.

Another of Rawiri's supporters said: "We are relieved sentencing is now over ... Bo is a much loved family member and when he is released he will come back home to his loving family."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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