A group of men who bashed a drug dealer for selling sugar instead of methamphetamine in what has been described as a "pack attack" have been sentenced to jail.
The four men appeared in the Rotorua District Court today for sentencing after each previously pleaded guilty to a charge of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
The men are Darcy Petera Rhind, Benjamin Raymond Friis, Steven Barry Hammon-Henry and Sean Laurence Palmer.
Palmer and Friis were known to the drug dealer and in mid-April last year, Palmer arranged a drug deal with the man. Palmer gave him half an ounce of cannabis in return for a quarter of a gram of methamphetamine. However, the drug dealer gave Palmer sugar instead of methamphetamine.
On April 27, Friis contacted the drug dealer asking for a quarter of a gram of methamphetamine. The drug dealer gave Friis his address at the Rose Court Motel on Devon St.
CCTV cameras at the motel captured the assault, which showed the men arriving about midnight on April 27, surrounding the drug dealer's unit in what was described as a "pre-planned manner" and demanding that he come to the door.
They carried out a brutal bashing that saw him repeatedly kicked and punched to the head and body. The assault left the victim with possibly lifelong head injuries.
The victim later tried to tell police he didn't suffer head injuries from that assault and had instead hurt himself the day before after falling from a skateboard. Judge Cooper said the courts did not accept the victim's explanation given the CCTV footage.
Scott Mills, who represented Friis, said the offending by his client was a big fall from grace.
He said he was a respected employee, a homeowner, a partner and had the responsibility of looking after his grandfather.
Mills said despite the premeditation, it was offending for two to three minutes in an otherwise faultless life.
Brian Foote, who represented Palmer, said his client, who was employed and had young children, described what happened as the "worst nightmare of his life".
Moana Dorset, who represented Rhind, said her client had good future prospects despite a background of growing up among drugs, alcohol and violence.
Bill Nabney, who represented Hammon-Henry, said his client knew the victim as an old school friend and had hoped to have a restorative justice hearing with him, but the victim couldn't be found for that process to happen.
"He said it was galling he behaved in this manner towards his friend ... Being high on methamphetamine means you do things you wouldn't always do."
Judge Philip Cooper noted Friis' lesser involvement in the offending and sentenced him to three years and six months and ordered him to pay reparation of $2000.
Judge Cooper noted it was Palmer who was enraged by the drug rip-off the judge arrived at an end sentence of five years and two months. Palmer was also ordered to pay reparation of $2000.
Rhind was sentenced to five years and two months' jail and Judge Cooper further sentenced him to six months' imprisonment to be served concurrently on a separate charge of drink driving.
Rhind has six previous convictions for drink driving, Judge Cooper also disqualified him from driving for 12 months to be served on top of his current indefinite disqualification, which effectively didn't change his current licence conditions.
Hammon-Henry was sentenced to five years and six months' jail.
Family members and friends who packed the public gallery cried as the sentences were handed down.
Judge Cooper said the assault was part of a plan to seek retribution from the victim.
"It was a pack attack."
The maximum prison sentence for wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm is 14 years.