A man who terrified his neighbour by leaving a note on her car windscreen demanding $3000 or "we will do you in" has been jailed for nine months.
Ngatokoiua Matapuku, 43, pleaded guilty in Gisborne District Court to demanding to steal with menace.
Crown prosecutor Josh Lucas said the offence was serious and warranted imprisonment but it was unsophisticated - Matapuku put his bank account number on the note.
Judge David Ruth said the charge was "just short" of aggravated robbery.
The extortion of money did not happen but the complainant had no way of knowing the threat would not be carried out.
The note stated: "We want this $3000 put into the account (number included) by 12 o'clock today. If you do not meet our time, we will do you in. If you think of telling anyone, you will be very sorry. Ask no questions at the teller. Just put the money in and leave. We will be waiting and watching your every move so don't... . with us."
The complainant said she felt terrified.
The note presented a threatening tone, and because she lived alone, she feared for her safety.
"I felt like a rabbit in a burrow with the strong scent of danger not far away. At the end of the day, I found it was Nga, my neighbour who I have lived beside for the last four years and even given him a ride in my car. It really rocked me."
Counsel Adam Simperingham said imprisonment was "on the cards" and Matapuku accepted that. He knew he had been really stupid.
Matapuku's offending was borne out of his addiction to gambling. He lacked insight and did not realise the extent of harm he had caused to his victim.
Mr Lucas said the complainant or anyone who saw the note would take seriously a demand for money, which stated otherwise "we will do you in".
Judge Ruth said the fact that Matapuku was a neighbour exacerbated the seriousness of his offending. The complainant believed Matapuku was part of a group because of the use of "we" and that those persons intended to carry out the threat implicit in the note.
Matapuku was depressed but that was not a mitigating factor. He had some serious previous convictions but none similar to demanding with menace. He had received community-based sentences and been jailed before.
Matapuku was apologetic and remorseful to the complainant and had been prepared to undergo the restorative justice process.
Judge Ruth said nine months imprisonment was a starting point and that was the final sentence after an uplift for previous violent offending (six months) and discounts for remorse (three months), and his early guilty plea (three months).
Matapuku was also sentenced to six months post-release conditions, including taking addiction programmes as directed.