Gang brawl sentence appeal

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A young man sentenced to home detention on a charge of unlawful assembly in relation to a brawl by rival gangs in central Kaikohe has appealed his sentence in the High Court.

Bronson Stevens, 20, was ordered by the Whangarei District Court in December last year to find a suitable home detention address or go to prison after he pleaded guilty to the charge.

He found a suitable address and was sentenced to three months' home detention.

Stevens' impassioned plea for a discharge without conviction to enable him to travel overseas as a professional rugby league player in future was rejected by Judge John McDonald.

His lawyer Wayne McKean argued that Stevens was not associated with any gang and had pulled up at the Z service station to fill up after a brawl between members of the Tribesman and Bloods gangs broke out.

He said although Stevens picked up a spanner, there was no suggestion he used it to threaten or hit anyone, and he picked up the weapon in self-defence.

In the High Court at Whangarei, Mr McKean said the district court allowed no discount for the level of Stevens' low culpability. He told Justice Patrick Keane that had Judge McDonald not set the gravity of the offending so high, a discharge without conviction would have come into play.

The sentencing judge, he submitted, set the same starting point of eight months for Stevens as he did for others who were heavily involved in the brawl.

Crown prosecutor Jarred Scott said Stevens was part of those who assembled unlawfully and had formed the same intent as others involved in the brawl.

Justice Keane reserved his decision.

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