Robbery spurs wake-up call from judge

By Peter de Graaf

A Paihia woman has been sentenced to community work for her part in a violent street robbery in which the victim was dragged along the road by a car.

Cheyenne Marie Orchard, 19, appeared in the Kaikohe District Court on Friday on a raft of charges, the most serious of which related to a robbery which shocked Paihia last year.

The 32-year-old victim had been celebrating her birthday in a Kings Rd bar on August 6 and was walking to her home a few hundred metres away when she was accosted by two women and a man.

Judge Greg Davis said the trio - Orchard, Raven Priscilla Renata and Levi Moses King - surrounded and pushed her while Renata tried to take her handbag.

"You and your associate punched her in the head and she fell to the ground ... while your male associate held her down you and Renata continued to punch her," Judge Davis said.

As the trio had got into Orchard's car with the handbag, the victim had opened a car door in a bid to get her belongings back.

Orchard had driven off, dragging the victim a short distance along Kings Rd. She had sustained grazes, cuts and bruises.

Orchard's lawyer, Grant Anson, said she had only found out later that the victim's bag was in the car.

Judge Davis dismissed Orchard's explanation that the victim had been "hitting on" her male companion. "You saw her walking alone at night and you decided to rob her. She was doing nothing, just going about her business."

Judge Davis said the attack had all the hallmarks of a street robbery. He was surprised police had dropped the original charge of aggravated robbery, which would have meant jail time.

Orchard had a tendency to blame her associates and the police for the problems she found herself in, he said. "You've got to wake up and understand you have to take responsibility for your actions, or you're going to end up in jail."

She was charged with dangerous driving, assault, receiving a handbag and contents, assaulting police, resisting police, driving while suspended and stealing a packet of bacon. Some of the charges related to an incident on September 1 last year when a police officer visited her flat after a complaint that her partner had broken a window. He found Orchard drunk, in breach of her bail conditions, and ordered her to complete a breath test.

Judge Davis said she became aggressive and swore at the constable. She had pushed him with both hands, then slammed a door on his leg.

Orchard was sentenced to 200 hours' community work, 12 months' supervision and alcohol treatment or counselling as required by the Probation Service. She was ordered to pay a third share, $167, of reparation to the robbery victim. She also had to pay the Paihia Four Square $11 for the bacon.

Renata and King have already been dealt with by the courts.

- Northern Advocate

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