The sentencing of two young men who bashed an 82-year-old Kerikeri man unconscious and stole his car has been deferred for a third time.
Tama Puhipi, from Mangamuka, and Rorana Mane, from Rahiri Settlement, earlier pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery relating to an incident on September 21 last year.
The pair, then both aged 17, had been hitch-hiking on State Highway 10 when they were picked up by an elderly Kerikeri resident.
When he dropped them off opposite Bay of Islands Airport he was bashed, pulled out of the car and left unconscious on the roadside.
His car was recovered after a police chase a few days later. A 15-year-old from Okaihau was charged with driving offences and receiving stolen property.
Puhipi was arrested after he was identified by witnesses who had given the pair a ride earlier in the day. Mane was handed over to police by his family.
The pair had been due to be sentenced in the Kaikohe District Court on Thursday, but Judge Kevin Glubb was concerned their cases had taken different legal paths.
Mane had been assessed as suitable for the Matariki Court — a marae-justice-based legal process being trialled in Northland in the hope of reducing Māori reoffending — while Puhipi was due to be sentenced in the District Court.
That could result in the two men receiving different sentences for the same crime, he said.
''I'm loathe to split them up ... both are equally culpable and need to be dealt with in the same way.''
Defence lawyer Doug Blaikie said the difficulty was that Puhipi now lived with a family member in Auckland while the Matariki Court operated only in Northland.
Judge Glubb deferred the sentencing to see if a similar path was available to Puhipi in Auckland.
The Matariki Court had led to ''some excellent outcomes'' but he also had a stern message for the offenders: ' ''You two young men are in some serious trouble."
Mane has been on bail with strict conditions since his arrest. Puhipi spent some time in custody earlier this year after conflicting reports about whether he was following his bail rules. Both are due back in court on May 7. Sentencing was also deferred on December 19 and January 30.