Business owner wants reparation for burglary damage to come from benefits

By Imran Ali -
4 comments
More than $20,000 worth of damage was done in a ramraid at Dargaville Honda Motorcycles. Photo / Michael Cunningham
More than $20,000 worth of damage was done in a ramraid at Dargaville Honda Motorcycles. Photo / Michael Cunningham

A Northland businessman wants benefit payments given to a man convicted of ram raiding his business causing more than $25,000 damage diverted towards covering the financial loss.

Bruce McKenzie of Dargaville Honda Motorcycles welcomed a sentence of four-and-a-half years imposed on Taitama Roma but said the thief should not be spared the responsibility of paying for the destruction he caused in the early hours of September 22.

Taitama Roma went to jail for a burglary spree, including a ramraid, but could not pay a single cent in reparation. Photo / Imran Ali
Taitama Roma went to jail for a burglary spree, including a ramraid, but could not pay a single cent in reparation. Photo / Imran Ali

Roma yesterday appeared for sentencing in the Dargaville District Court after earlier pleading guilty to seven burglary charges, two of theft of motor vehicles, two of aggravated assault against police officers, two of failing to stop, and one of reckless driving.

Judge Colin Doherty did not order reparation which ran into tens of thousands of dollars because, he said, it was not feasible.

Roma ram raided the front doors and a wall at Dargaville Honda Motorcycles using a Mitsubishi Center truck he stole from Dargaville Diesel Services and stole four chainsaws worth $3500 and causing about $20,000 of damage.

He then used a tyre iron from the stolen truck and smashed windows of four businesses in town and stole small sums of money.

A police pursuit began and on Waihue Rd, Roma reversed the stolen truck into a marked police car. The car, worth about $40,000, was a write-off.

He then turned around and headed back towards town. An officer in a patrol car had to take evasive action twice.

Roma abandoned the stolen truck on Waimata Rd before stealing a Honda car from a farmhouse. He drove to Baylys Beach where he was seen by a fisheries officer.

He drove on to various roads before stopping on a farm property and fleeing on foot. He was arrested a short time later after hiding in a bush.

Police recovered a number of items from the stolen car, including a money box and a receipt from two shops he burgled hours earlier.

Roma blamed the several smash-and-grab burglaries on gambling and said he lost all his money on pokies.

In court yesterday, his lawyer Tracy Donald asked the judge to adjourn sentencing so a suitable rehabilitation programme could be identified for Roma who was motivated to change.

This police car was a write-off after Taitama Roma rammed it using a stolen Mitsubishi Canter during a burglary spree in Dargaville. Photo / Michael Cunningham
This police car was a write-off after Taitama Roma rammed it using a stolen Mitsubishi Canter during a burglary spree in Dargaville. Photo / Michael Cunningham

But Judge Doherty said the offences Roma committed were serious and an adjournment would be a waste of court's time.

Roma's previous convictions spanned 12 pages and included 20 of unlawfully taking motor vehicles, 12 burglaries, 11 for violence, and two for disqualified driving.

Mr McKenzie said the justice system sucked to a point.

"He's still going to get his benefit. Why doesn't the benefit gets paid to the victims? The taxpayers are going to pay his benefit and also pay to keep him in jail."

He said apart from the financial implications of the burglary spree, the sentence Roma received meant he would not break into others' properties while he was in jail.

Mr McKenzie said the damage to his business from the ram raid and stolen property amounted to between $25,000 and $30,000.

He will spend additional money to put up security measures such as bollards.

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