Would-be armed robber sent to jail

By Anna Ferrick

Maia Rongonui (inset) admitted his part in an attempted armed robbery in Masterton and a string of other offences throughout Hawke's Bay. Pictured is CCTV footage from the Caltex petrol station in Masterton, where Rongonui brandished a shotgun while wearing a Halloween mask. Photo/Supplied
Maia Rongonui (inset) admitted his part in an attempted armed robbery in Masterton and a string of other offences throughout Hawke's Bay. Pictured is CCTV footage from the Caltex petrol station in Masterton, where Rongonui brandished a shotgun while wearing a Halloween mask. Photo/Supplied

A man who attempted to rob a Masterton petrol station while armed with a sawn-off shotgun before committing burglaries in Hawke's Bay has been jailed for three years and nine months.

Maia Rongonui, 24, appeared in the Napier District Court yesterday after entering guilty pleas to 20 charges including attempted aggravated robbery, burglary, unlawfully interfering with a motor vehicle and breaching release conditions.

Judge Tony Adeane said it was to Rongonui's advantage that he had not been successful in the petrol station robbery despite his best efforts.

"He did all within his power to bring about the crime, it was only the brave resistance of the victim that frustrated the attempt and reduced the maximum sentence by 50 per cent."

The court heard the maximum term of imprisonment for aggravated robbery is 14 years opposed to the maximum term for attempted aggravated robbery which is seven years.

Judge Adeane told Rongonui he was still young enough to change his ways if he decided to.

"However at this moment you have a high risk of reoffending."

Rongonui was granted a reduction for an early guilty plea and was jailed for three years and nine months.

His lawyer, Nicola Graham, told the court she was hopeful that when her client returned to his family he would decide to move away from the life he has created over the past few years.

A summary of facts presented to the court at Rongonui's last appearance said he sat outside the Caltex petrol station in Masterton on the evening of November 11 last year, observing the forecourt.

He sent and received a number of text messages, discussing with an associate how many people were still present at the petrol station as it was about it close.

Rongonui then entered the petrol station in a "witch-type mask"and carrying a sawn-off shotgun.

He brandished it at the teller and demanded money from her.

The teller refused to give him any cash and he moved toward her, aiming the shotgun within an inch of her chest, and made the demand again.

She continued to refuse and Rongonui left the store.

The summary said the victim was not physically injured but had been traumatised by the event.

Rongonui also pleaded guilty to a number of burglaries.

Beginning on October 18 in Levin, Rongonui burgled properties throughout Wairarapa and Hawke's Bay.

He took items including a .22 rifle, chainsaws, jewellery and computers.

On November 22 last year, Rongonui was in the Whakatu area looking for properties to break into and items to steal.

He entered a number of properties looking for items of value, before stealing a car and driving to Waipawa.

Again he began entering properties and searching for items.

He located a .22 rifle and a chainsaw, which he loaded into the back of the stolen vehicle before driving to the Dannevirke Golf Club and entering a farm shed.

Inside he found another two chainsaws, which he placed in the boot.

He was confronted by a staff member who noticed the items in the car and quickly leaned in to grab the keys, prompting Rongonui to run off across a paddock.

After running a short distance he found a car parked on Tamaki River Rd with the keys in the ignition. He continued south in the car he had taken and burgled another property in Feilding, taking items of jewellery and a laptop.

Throughout the spree, Rongonui was in constant text contact with an associate providing him with a blow by blow account of what he had done and what he intended to do with the property.

He was eventually apprehended and spoken to by police on December 12

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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