Ruakaka man attacks Christian missionaries

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A man who drove at Mormon missionaries he thought were gang members has been jailed for more than two years in the Whangarei District Court. Photo / 123RF
A man who drove at Mormon missionaries he thought were gang members has been jailed for more than two years in the Whangarei District Court. Photo / 123RF

A Ruakaka man who thought foreign Mormon missionaries going door-to-door in Ruakaka were gang members and drove them off the road has been jailed for more than two years.

Michael Moses, 46, appeared in Whangarei District Court for sentencing last week after earlier pleading guilty to two counts of assault with a weapon, a car, on November 26, last year, and two of dangerous driving - once on November 26 and again on December 18.

Sentencing Judge Patrick Treston said Moses was driving in Ruakaka about 9.30pm on November 18 when he saw a car coming towards him that contained three missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who were from Brazil and South Africa.

Moses drove straight at the vehicle, forcing the missionaries to drive around his vehicle to avoid being hit.

Moses then followed them, including driving beside their vehicle yelling at them and eventually he forced them off the road, leading to the missionaries fearing for their lives.

They managed to drive away and alert police, who found Moses at his home.

During the pursuit the missionaries were forced to drive above the speed limit to escape.

Moses told police he thought the men were gang members who had made a signal to him as if they were aiming a gun at him.

On December 18 Moses was clocked by police driving at up to 142km/h on State Highway One and around Ruakaka.

Judge Treston said it was fortunate nobody was injured as a result of Moses' driving and the ordeal had terrified the missionaries.

"The victims, who are missionaries, feared for their lives. They saw you as a very angry and aggressive man ... One said as a missionary he saw some crazy behaviour going door-to-door, but he'd never seen anything as crazy as this," he said.

Judge Treston said Moses had an extensive criminal history - which covered more than 13 pages of convictions - stretching back to 1984, including for violence and driving offences.

"That list doesn't make very good reading," Judge Treston said.

A probation report for sentencing recommended that Moses not be jailed as previous terms of imprisonment had not worked in turning him around, but instead impose a period of intensive supervision.

The judge said that was not appropriate and while Moses did express regret for his actions, he was considered a high risk of harm to others and a high risk of reoffending.

Moses pleaded guilty and was jailed for two years and one month and disqualified from driving for two years.

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