Teen tells judge he'll shape up

By Court Reporter

A 17-year-old who was scolded by a judge for gesturing his objection to the summary of a crime he had earlier admitted has vowed to change for the better.

Hoani Royden Junior Check asked to make that point when he appeared before Judge David Cameron in the Whanganui District Court on Tuesday for sentencing on charges of robbery, theft and aggravated assault.

Those charges were laid following two episodes of thuggery that occurred within the space of four days in 2012.

The first incident took place about 5.50pm on August 25, 2012, when Check encountered his 16-year-old victim on the Aramoho Rail Bridge walkway.

The victim and his two friends were crossing the bridge as they made their way to Aramoho and walked past Check and his male associate while doing so.

The summary of facts states Check or his associate called out to the victim when he was halfway along the walkway. The victim stopped and turned to see Check pursuing him.

Check walked up to the victim and, with his fists raised and clenched, demanded his shoes. He told the victim if he refused to hand them over, he would give him a hiding.

Check's claw hammer-wielding associate then approached one of the victim's friends, pushed him up against a walkway barrier and demanded the guitar he was carrying.

Finally, Check insisted the victim hand over his cellphone, which he did.

Check and the associate, whom he refused to identify, then walked away towards Wanganui East.

On August 29, 2012 an intoxicated Check and several associates descended on Trafalgar Square shopping centre, where Check attempted to steal a pair of shoes that were on display at Number One Shoes. He was thwarted by a staff member.

Check moved on to the shopping centre's Countdown supermarket, and while he purchased items at the store, another of his associates stole a $7.99 bottle of wine, which Check hid down his pants.

Members of the public witnessed the fracas that resulted from Check being stopped and questioned by a Countdown employee about the stolen wine.

Check reacted angrily and punched the staff member before lifting the wine bottle over his head. The supermarket worker managed to move out of the way and the bottle smashed as it hit the ground.

It was during the reading of this second incident that Judge Cameron told Check he could "gesticulate ... all you like" but those were the facts he had pleaded guilty to.

Check's lawyer, Stephen Ross, told the court his client had a difficult upbringing. Check's father was a gang member.

But Mr Ross said there was potential for Check to turn his life around.

A sentence of community detention, as opposed to home detention, would allow him to access the support he needed to rehabilitate, Mr Ross said.

Crown Solicitor Lance Rowe sought community work and reparation be handed down as well.

Judge Cameron said Check's pre-sentence report was poor. It pointed to a sense of entitlement, problem-drinking, a propensity for violence, limited self-control, an unstructured lifestyle and few positive influences.

"You haven't got a good role model at all, and no doubt that is part of the reason for the way you act," Judge Cameron said. However, there came a time when people needed to make their own way, he said.

On one count of robbery, Check was sentenced to six months' community detention and six months' supervision, while on two counts of theft and one of aggravated assault, he was sentenced to 150 hours' community work.

Check was also ordered to pay reparation for the wine and stolen cellphone, $7.99 and $200, respectively.

Judge Cameron warned Check if he breached the conditions of his sentence, he would "almost certainly" be imprisoned.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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