A gang member who tried to take the blame for his mate's crimes has had 17 months added to his prison term for his troubles — and the other man was still convicted.
Taiki Jade Hira, 44, originally from Hawke's Bay, was behind bars early last year following a six-week burglary spree, targeting 25 houses and $250,000 of property when he heard his 46-year-old fellow Mongrel Mob member Jeremy Malcolm Gerard Howard had been charged with receiving stolen goods.
Police found more than $30,000 of swag when they raided Howard's home in March last year.
For Hira, who appeared in the Dunedin District Court this week, what was a few more months on a sentence he already knew was going to be lengthy?
A plan was hatched for him to take the rap for Howard's charges but the ruse was uncovered with relative ease.
Between June 3 and July 19 last year, Hira called his mate from prison six times.
All the conversations were recorded and they made it clear the pair were plotting to have Howard wriggle out of responsibility.
A transcript of the first call showed Hira's willingness.
"I'll just f***ing get in touch with your lawyer, see if I can f***ing do an affidavit or ownership of whatever got taken and throw them all on mine," he said.
"Sieg dog, sieg," (a Mongrel Mob affirmation) Howard responded.
"Just take the old f***ing heat off you."
"That'd be hearty as, dog."
Howard pleaded not guilty to the charges, maintaining Hira was responsible for the offences, and a trial date was set for September.
Before that could happen, Hira spoke with Howard about his frustrations dealing with lawyers, requesting to have the charges loaded on to him.
"Well just keep going not guilty and blah blah blah and I'll ... get in there and help you out however I can," Hira said.
"Sieg dog, sieg," Howard replied.
But rather than the receiving charges, Hira was lumbered with an extra charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Although he pleaded guilty, his counsel Brian Kilkelly said his client maintained he was only trying to take responsibility for crimes he had legitimately committed.
The Mongrel Mob had played a pivotal role in Hira's life from an early age, as had drugs, the lawyer said.
"For most of his life, the gang has been his family. The offending was a response to a family need," Kilkelly said.
Judge David Robinson added 17 months to the three years 10 months the defendant was serving for the burglaries.
Howard eventually pleaded guilty to his charges and was sentenced to home detention and community work.
During his earlier burglary spree, Hira had entered a home, grabbed a cup, a Raro sachet from the kitchen and made a drink.
That impromptu beverage break led to his undoing after police swabbed the cup and sent it to Environmental Science and Research for a DNA test, which led to placing Hira at the scene.