Police applaud prison sentences for mobsters

Three gang members were sentenced to a combined 37 years and six months in prison when they appeared in the High Court at Napier yesterday, sentences that police say will send a strong message to gangs that violent behaviour has serious consequences.

Two separate sentencings came before the High Court yesterday, one the result of a trial in which Mongrel Mob member Sio Muliipu was found guilty of stabbing his girlfriend in the eye in 2011 in an attack that resulted in her eye being removed.

The other involved Black Power members and cousins James Huata, 22, and Thomas Huata, 24, were sentenced to 12 years and 3 months imprisonment each for the shooting of a rival gang member in Wairoa in 2010, to which they pleaded guilty.

The two cousins were responsible for the shotgun shooting at a Wairoa petrol station in October 2010 that was captured on a CCTV camera.

They also faced charges for attempting to pervert the course of justice after having tried to intimidate a witness.

Justice David Collins said their actions, in which they shot the man twice at point blank range, were a "classic case of gang retaliation" and it was only a matter of chance the victim had survived.

Gisborne Police Detective Senior Sergeant Craig Scott said the sentence was a fair outcome considering the gravity of the offending.

"People who get caught up in the gang culture and then gang offending ... The consequences certainly are extremely serious, as seen by the reaction of the supporters," Mr Scott said.

"It obviously came as a bit of a shock to them - the severity and the length of the sentence."

Muliipu, 24, was sentenced to 13 years' imprisonment for a prolonged attack on his girlfriend in late 2011, in which he stabbed her in the eye as well as assaulted her with a vacuum cleaner.

He was found guilty by a jury on seven charges in late August.

Muliipu has a lengthy list of previous convictions.

The Crown yesterday requested preventive detention, meaning he would be sentenced to a minimum term and only be released if authorities were satisfied he was no longer a significant risk to the public.

This was unsuccessful, but he did receive a minimum non-parole period of seven years.

His previous crimes included beating up a woman with a wooden stool and attacking a prison officer.

Muliipu was also the prisoner who triggered a rooftop protest at Hawke's Bay Prison last year.

Hastings family violence co-ordinator and Detective Sergeant Darren Pritchard said Muliipu's latest offence was one of the worst domestic-violence incidents he had worked on.

"This [the sentence] is the consequence for his behaviour," Mr Pritchard said.

"Sadly, this victim of domestic violence has got to live with the permanent loss of an eye now and I don't think it gets much worse than that."

He did not see it as a problem specific to gangs, but rather perpetrated by people from "all walks of life".

But Muliipu's sentence and that received by Mobsters Adam Joseph Karetu and Gene Skipper last week for rape, sent a strong message.

"At the end of the day, this sentence of 13 years is yet again a very strong indication from our courts that serious violence won't be tolerated by anybody, whether they are gang or not," Mr Pritchard said.

"I think gangs will take notice of these lengthy sentences and this type of offending. This has got to be an indication to them that this is not acceptable behaviour for our community."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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