A Hawke's Bay Judge has denounced the Mongrel Mob in jailing two members and advising they divest themselves of their gang affiliations and methamphetamine use.
Neil Angus Benson and Hagen Taraiwa Wiremu Henare appeared for sentence before Judge Tony Adeane in the Napier District Court this morning for kidnapping a young woman who owed Mob kingpin Alexander Tamati a debt for methamphetamine.
Tamati, formerly the president of the gang's Aotearoa chapter, stood trial in the Napier District Court last month for enlisting the 28-year-olds to kidnap the woman, who owed him a sum between $400 and 800, and bring her to him to "work it off".
The 60-year-old was found guilty on four charges of unlawful sexual connection, two each of kidnapping and aggravated assault and one each of assault on a female, assault with a blunt instrument and threatening to kill or do grievous bodily harm.
Benson and Henare faced identical charges but pleaded guilty to kidnapping on the second day of the trial, after which the Crown withdrew the remaining charges.
Sentencing for all three was set for this morning, however Judge Adeane had little option but to adjourn Tamati's sentencing after defence lawyer Russell Fairbrother indicated his client was seeking a cultural report into his background.
Pursuant to Section 27 of the Sentencing Act 2002, offenders may request the court to hear any person to speak on the personal, family, whanau, community, and cultural background of the offender.
In light of this Judge Adeane "regrettably" adjourned Tamati's sentencing to February 9.
This morning Benson's defence lawyer Eric Forster submitted his client was "very sorry" for his involvement in the offending.
"My client's personal circumstances show someone who is a very intelligent, capable person, yet finds himself without his family and without his liberty because of his involvement in both that subculture and methamphetamine."
He accepted a term of imprisonment was the only available outcome, noting Benson was already serving time for unrelated offending, but added the effect of cumulative terms of imprisonment would be "crushing".
Henare's defence lawyer Scott Jefferson said his client was entitled to a modest discount for his guilty plea.
The 28-year-olds kidnapped the woman and delivered her to Tamati with the message "parcel delivered" in the early hours of November 26, 2016.
In a thread of Facebook messages read in court during the trial, the jury heard Tamati and the complainant discussing "the bill"; him telling her to come see him and "work it off".
She was taken to Tamati who proceeded to assault and sexually violate her.
Judge Adeane began the sentencing by saying the pair had been the secondary party to matters that arose after the woman indebted to Tamati avoided him for months.
"This was probably wise of her because she didn't just owe money to anyone, she owed it to a methamphetamine user and Mongrel mob kingpin with significant influence and human resources at his disposal."
He said the plea arrangement was "highly tactical and beneficial" to both defendants and, in the circumstances, no discount for this ought to be imposed.
A starting point of no less than two years' jail time was adopted to recognise the "outrageous piece of gangsterism" and the Judge acknowledged similar episodes went unreported in "the real world".
There was significant public interest in denouncing such behaviour, he said.
"I suggest to them to divest themselves of Mongrel Mob affiliations and abstain from methamphetamine consumption; both of which are characteristics notoriously linked to most of the offending seen in this court."
He jailed Henare for two years and six months' imprisonment, and Benson for two years and three months' to be served cumulatively with his current prison term.
-Hawke's Bay Today