Brothers jailed over armed robbery

File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

Two brothers involved in an armed robbery in Dunedin last year have been sentenced to more than 10 years in prison.

Rawiri David Wereta, 29, and Damien Karl Wereta, 32, will both serve a non-parole period of three years.

They were sentenced to 10 years and six months' prison when they appeared in court at Christchurch today.

The pair were handcuffed to waist belts for today's court appearance, which was moved from Dunedin and held in the High Court for security reasons.

They were flanked by about eight Corrections officers and the media were advised to sit on the other side of the courtroom.

Even so, when the brothers entered the dock they leaned past the officers and greeted each other with a Black Power handshake.

They faced a raft of charges including robbery, grievous bodily harm, assault on members of the public and Corrections officers, threatening to kill, presenting a firearm and various other breaches of earlier sentences.

Both of them received warnings under the "three strikes" law. Rawiri received his second, meaning a third will make him ineligible for parole in future.

The brothers were former patched members of the Black Power gang. After release from prison in 2010 they set up a chapter in Dunedin.

The court was told that with the help of a gang prospect, they stole a car and drove to the Regent St Night'n Day store wearing balaclavas and with Damien armed with a knife. Rawiri held an imitation pistol.

The beat a member of the public unconscious before entering the dairy.

They assaulted and threatened the dairy owner at knifepoint before demanding cigarettes and $1481 from the till.

After their subsequent arrest they were involved in attacks on four Rimutaka Prison officers while on remand.

One of the guards assaulted in that incident had his jaw broken in two places. Three plates had to be inserted to repair the breaks and a tooth had to be removed for the plates to be fixed in place. Another of his teeth was broken and his eye socket was fractured when his head hit the floor while he was unconscious.

Judge Michael Crosbie said the sentence must reflect deterrence for the pair in particular and in general.

The judge reiterated the violence involved, premeditation, and weapons used. The public needed to be protected, he said.

He gave the men a discount for pleading guilty, saving the cost of jury trials.

He also took into account their expressions of remorse and desire to look after their families in future.

He noted a history of drug and alcohol abuse and the probation reports which classed them as a high risk.

- APNZ

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