Northland's first second strike

By Kristin Edge

A Whangarei man who pointed a BB gun at a pedestrian on a busy central city street is believed to be the first Northland criminal to be issued a second strike warning under legislation that came into force in 2010.

During sentencing, Judge Duncan Harvey expressed concern that 21-year-old Ricki Buisman would kill someone if nothing was done.

Buisman appeared in the Whangarei District Court on Tuesday after previously pleading guilty to assault with intent to rob, dangerous driving, unlawful taking of a motor vehicle and driving while forbidden on January 22. He was sentenced to two years in jail, which under the new law he will serve in full with no parole.

The second strike comes nine months after Buisman was given his first strike on robbery charges.

If Buisman is now convicted of any of the 40 qualifying offences comprising all major violent and sexual offences with a maximum penalty of seven years' imprisonment or more, he will serve the maximum prison term in full.

The court heard a man had been walking on Bank St talking on his cellphone about 1.30pm. Buisman was a passenger in a car and when the driver slowed, Buisman leaned out the car window and yelled at the man on the street he wanted his cellphone.

Buisman then told the man he would shoot him and pointed a gun out the window at him. A BB gun was later found by police.

The man was scared and went into a cafe to get away.

Later the same day, Buisman was involved with taking a vehicle from a Kamo house. Buisman had driven over the footpath and on the wrong side of the road, causing other drivers to swerve to avoid him.

Police found Buisman at a Tikipunga house.

"There is a need to protect the community from you. Until you are able to overcome your serious drug problem, you are going to be a threat to the community. You have the potential to be a very dangerous young man," Judge Harvey said. "I'm concerned unless something is done, I think you will kill someone."

Supporters of the legislation say the new laws will eventually make criminals think twice before committing a serious crime.

Sensible Sentencing Trust Northland representative Steve Detlaff said this week's sentencing was a message to criminals the courts were prepared to use the new law.

"This is a step in the right direction. Now the law just has to be applied consistently by the judges."

Details released under the Official Information Act show 119 first warnings had been handed out in Northland to the end of March. Nationwide, 2566 offenders have been awarded a first strike and 15 a second.

- Northern Advocate

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