From the courts - roundup of recent court reports.

By Ilona Hanne

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A man appeared in court last week charged with firing shots to frighten the father and brother of All Black Beauden Barrett.

The shots were allegedly fired near a vehicle occupied by Kevin and Blake Barrett, father and brother of the rugby player. The alleged offence took place in Pungarehu on December 19 at about 10.30 at night.

Appearing in Hawera District Court before Judge Allan Roberts last Wednesday, 46 year-old Eugene Loui Nuku, of Pungarehu South Taranaki, entered a plea of not guilty and will reappear on March 1.

Nuku claimed in court the pair were in the process of stealing a Christmas tree which was growing outside his house. He alleged the area was fenced and they had a saw to cut the tree down.

He told the judge he wanted an apology from the Barretts.

The prospect of a prison sentence sent one man running on a short-lived escape from the police cells at Hawera District Court last week.

Deon Leslie Marriner had a peared before Judge Allan Roberts earlier in the day on Wednesday, January 13, for sentencing on a number of charges including the supply of drugs, possession of equipment used for drugs and offering to supply drugs.

Sentencing Marriner on a total of five charges to two years and five months imprisonment, Judge Roberts highlighted that the offending occurred while Marriner was already under sentence of supervision for previous offences.

"You and I know each other Mr Marriner. You have been a regular attendee in court. You have spent much of your adult life in prison."

Later in the day, minutes after District Court had finished for the day, Marriner made an escape bid, rushing from the police cells into the courtroom and through the public exit onto Princes Street. Chased by police and court security staff, Marriner ran into the town library. He was soon caught and returned to custody.

Mathais Te Raikaao Pire Robinson was called "a bare-faced liar" by Judge Allan Roberts last week, who refused to accept that the Normanby man was in possession of a psychoactive substance for the purpose of helping his daughter beat a drug addiction. Mathais appeared in Hawera District Court on Wednesday, January 13 on charges of supplying a psychoactive substance, possession of a cut-down .303 rifle and permitting his premises to be used for the cultivation of cannabis.

Robinson's son, Reuben James Omahuru Robinson, stood in the dock with his father for sentencing on charges of receiving a stolen .22 rifle, cultivating cannabis and possessing equipment for the cultivation of cannabis.

"Drugs and guns are a bad mix," said Judge Roberts, before remanding the men to reappear later in the month for sentencing, allowing time for an assessment of their home's suitability for home-based sentences to be completed by probation services. Meanwhile, he warned them that prison would follow "should you so much as put a seed in the ground".

The presentation of a receipt for petrol saved one Stratford man from community work last week. Jonathan Alexander Wood, a 28 year-old from Stratford had appeared in the Hawera District Court on Tuesday, January 19 on two charges of petrol theft.

The court heard that Wood was charged with stealing petrol totalling $40 from Spirit in Stratford on September 17, and a further $40 of petrol from Z in Inglewood on October 1. One of the debts had been repaid by the time Wood appeared before Judge Roberts on the Tuesday, however the remaining $40 debt was still outstanding. Woods said he could repay this amount on Thursday, but Judge Roberts gave him an incentive to do so sooner. "Show me the same speed you displayed during the drive-offs," he told him, saying if proof of it being paid was presented to the court the following day, then a community work sentence could be avoided.

Woods duly returned to court on Wednesday with a receipt showing the remaining debt had also been paid. He thanked Judge Roberts for giving him the opportunity to pay. Convicting and discharging Woods, Judge Roberts told him he had to behave "like the rest of us". "When you can't afford to travel, you don't."

A car chase in Eltham last July, in which a female victim was repeatedly tail-gated and rammed by a car driven by Riki Darrren Morton, led to Morton being charged with dangerous driving, assault with a weapon and male assaults female.

Crown prosecutor Justin Marinovich told the court that for a 10 to 15 minute period, the offender had chased the victim around Eltham shunting her car with his.

The chase, which began at 8am on Saturday, July 11 last year, started after Morton saw the victim in her car talking to a man. Morton followed her when she drove away, tail-gating and ramming her until her car ended up stuck in a gutter on Eltham's main road. Morton pulled her from the car, dragging her into his, and the victim's head was hit on the car. She was then verbally abused by Morton.

Since the incident, Morton had returned to his family home in Otara and apologised to his victim, defence lawyer Julian Hannan said. Morton had also paid $4500 for the victim's car to be repaired. The court heard that Morton suffered from some mental health issues.

Judge Roberts told Morton that compliance was essential. "I've gone out on a limb for you. I expect you to comply with your sentence. We both know your record of complying isn't crash hot. Any judge dealing with you in the future will see I have noted there is to be no leeway for you." Morton was sentenced to 12 months intensive supervision with conditions including non association with the victim and completion of a stopping violence programme. Along with a 12 month disqualification from driving, He was also sentenced to 225 hours of community work.

- Stratford Press

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