Violent offender promises to change

By Anna Ferrick

Police in Greenmeadows, Napier, in September during searches for a Mongrel Mob member who stabbed another man during an altercation in the Napier Courthouse.
Police in Greenmeadows, Napier, in September during searches for a Mongrel Mob member who stabbed another man during an altercation in the Napier Courthouse.

A Mongrel Mob member with a history of violent offending, including an attack on a prison officer and stabbing a man in the Napier Courthouse, has apologised to his victim and vowed to change his ways in a letter to the judge.

Johnny Daniel Braam, 25, was sentenced to three years and four months' imprisonment yesterday in the same court in which his most recent crime took place.

The court heard how Braam stabbed a man waiting in the foyer on September 4, assuming he was a rival gang member.

The victim received a wound to his hand that required six stitches.

Braam pleaded guilty at an earlier court appearance to a charge of wounding with intent to injure and possession of methamphetamine which was discovered when he was located by police later the same day.

The court heard yesterday that Braam has a history of violent offending, including assaulting a prison officer and fighting in public.

Despite his history, Braam's lawyer Scott Jefferson said he had written an "insightful" letter to Judge Tony Adeane and was set on changing his life.

The letter said there were several mitigating circumstances which should be taken into account during sentencing.

"I have had no father figure or key role models as a child and for me growing up has been a constant struggle in my life."

He wrote that he knew he had to be punished for his "stupidity and poor decision making".

"I would also like to take this opportunity to formally apologise to Your Honour The Judge, court, crown, police and also the victim and their family also my own family as well as the greater community and anyone else that I have offended along the way."

Braam wrote that issues in his life had led him to be heavily influenced by drugs and alcohol but that learning he is about to become a father "sparked a sudden change" in him.

"I very much want to change for the better of my new family. I would much like to be a solid figure in their lives and be the best father I can possibly be ... I have come to the realisation that I need help and have deep underlying issues that need resolution."

Judge Adeane took the letter into account during sentencing and said the methamphetamine use had contributed to his criminal history.

He said Braam has a "propensity for violence" and that a probation report which said he had a high risk of reoffending was "alarming".

Judge Adeane uplifted the sentence by six months for the location of the offending.

"It is highly aggravating that the offending occurred in the court precinct."

Ministry of Justice General Manager of District Courts Tony Fisher said a review into the incident at the courthouse confirmed the incident was a rare one.

"I am satisfied that staff responded quickly and took the appropriate action to prevent the situation escalating. The victim was specifically targeted and the risk to other court users was minimal.I want to assure the public that courthouses are safe places."

Mr Fisher said there has been a big drop in the number of potential weapons that people have tried to bring to the court since 2009.

"When we expanded screening and doubled the number of Court Security Officers around the country, and the number of serious incidents has more than halved."

"We took what happened in Napier very seriously and took a closer look at our security arrangements as a result, as we do following any security breach. I can't give you details of what we found or what if any changes we made as this would impact on the security arrangements at the court."

Braam was also sentenced on two unrelated charges that were laid after he went to the house of an associate and attempted to recover money.

He carried an imitation firearm with him and told the victim he wouldn't think twice about sticking some holes in him.

Judge Adeane sentenced Braam to one year imprisonment for the unrelated offending to be served cumulatively.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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