A Tauranga man who threatened to take three McDonald's Tauranga customers on the "ride from hell" and went on to rob them at gunpoint has been jailed for six years.
Shaun Merro Taikato, 24, was sentenced in the High Court at Tauranga on Thursday after he earlier pleaded guilty to seven charges.
They were two charges each of aggravated robbery and kidnapping, and one charge each of attempted kidnapping, reckless use of a firearm, and unlawful possession of a firearm.
The aggravated robbery charges related to the theft of the victims' vehicle, $350 and other items valued at more than $2000. Only the vehicle has been recovered.
At 4.30am on May 28, 2016, Taikato, armed with a cut-down .22 rifle, jumped into the back seat of the victims' car as they ate their McDonald's, the court heard.
Taikato pointed his firearm at the driver saying "we can do this the easy or the hard way". He then told them to "hand over all your cash and everything you have".
When the back-seat passenger tried to hop out, he was punched before the driver was told to "drive, drive, drive". The back-seat victim ran to safety after punching Taikato.
After telling the driver to take him to Merivale, Taikato fired a shot out of the car window and told the two remaining victims "this is going to be your final ride".
He demanded the driver withdraw $2000 from an ATM in Greerton but punched the victim in the back of the head when he was shown a receipt to confirm he had no money.
Taikato told him "I want $2000, or I'm taking the car".
After the driver drove to the front passenger's home instead of his own, Taikato told this victim to head to Te Puke as "this is going to be your last ride".
Once in Welcome Bay, the victims were forced to stand in front of the car's lights and remove their shoes and socks and empty their pockets and told to start walking.
Taikato then drove towards the victims, who managed to jump out of the way.
The following month, Taikato was at his Henderson Cres home where he shot himself through the hand and chest with the same firearm.
His lawyer Bill Nabney urged Justice Graham Lang to take into account that at the time of this offending Taikato was extremely depressed following a relationship break-up.
Referees confirmed this was "totally out of character" behaviour for Taikato, who, because of his mental state, had "gone off the rails", Nabney said.
Taikato's attempt to end his life was further evidence of his mental state, he said.
Apart from a prior conviction for possession of cannabis, Taikato, who was described as a hard-working family man by his family and referees, was remorseful, Nabney said.
Justice Lang told Taikato there were aggravating features to his offending.
Not only were there threats of taking the victims on the "journey from hell" but actual violence and discharging the unsafe firearm which had risked severe injury or death.
Judge Lang said understandably the victims feared they were going to be killed and were left traumatised, and one victim had also lost his fledgling business because of this.
Despite Taikato's expressions of remorse, his attempt to vacate his guilty pleas "did not reflect well" on him, and only small discounts for guilty pleas and his age were warranted.