Mastermind of Mongrel Mob crime spree jailed

The mastermind and leading hands behind an Auckland Mongrel Mob spree of robberies were jailed for a total of 27 years yesterday.

Chapter president Terry Peri had claimed he wanted to steer his troops away from crime, but he led two of his lieutenants to long stretches in prison as the ring behind robberies, home invasion and hard drug-dealing was cracked.

They and seven others, either members of the gang or associates and friends, were caught in a three-month police bugging operation centred on Peri's Sandringham home.

In the High Court at Auckland, Peri, aged 37, got 12 years' imprisonment on three robbery charges, conspiring to commit aggravated robbery and conspiring to supply cocaine and LSD.

His sergeant-at-arms Thomas Epiha, 38, who has spent only 18 months out of prison since 1983, was jailed for 10 years for two robberies, while vice-president Haurua Tauraha David Jerry, 34, got five years for a home-invasion robbery and conspiring to supply LSD.

Justice Randerson said Peri was the ringleader in the robberies of a central Auckland liquor store, an Owairaka ASB Bank, and the home invasion of a liquor-store owner in which a woman was tied up and $21,000 stolen.

The gang also kept hatching plans to attack her husband for another haul, despite being thwarted on one other occasion by the police.

Justice Randerson said detectives cut short their bugging operation on Peri's Sandringham home early because the gang was planning to continue its spree. The bugging, also carried out at the home of cocaine dealer Robert Malcolm Shedden who denied being a member of the gang, picked up conversations about selling drugs.

Peri's lawyer, Roger Chambers, said the defendant had been trying to turn the gang away from crime, taking over a firewood business and working with Houhanga Rongo, a charitable organisation in Otara aiming to help people fulfil their potential.

"He refers to [the gang] as his hapu [sub-tribe] and he wanted to get them into legitimate activities," Mr Chambers said. "He tried to help them considerably and get them out of the recidivous offending, but knockbacks finally broke him."

But Justice Randerson said he found that difficult to accept, as he labelled the gang's spree "organised crime on a significant scale."

However, he accepted that the drug-dealing was at a low level.

Also jailed were: Lawrence Rongowhakaata Bradley, 27, six years for robbery; Darren James Raimona, 29, seven years for two robberies and the aggravated-robbery conspiracy; Reece Michael Varney, 24, five years for robbery and the aggravated-robbery conspiracy; Shedden, 41, three years for supplying cocaine and conspiring to supply the drug.

Peri's de facto wife, Alma Joan Daly, 36, was given a six-month suspended sentence for conspiring to supply LSD, as was Virginia Greaves, 36. Peri's sister Deidre, 38, got three months' periodic detention for procuring the drug.

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