Her jaw dislocated and a screwdriver held to her back, a young woman has described the moment she thought she would die after being kidnapped by a group of youths and bundled into the boot of a stolen car.

The horrific ordeal for the woman and her friend began on the night of May 3 along central Auckland's Bowen Ave.

It ended some three hours later and 52km away in the Bombay Hills when police found the pair injured and lying in a wrecked car after it had crashed off a bridge.

"I was terrified and I feared for my life," one of the victims told a court during the sentencing of one of her kidnappers today.


"I felt like there was no escape ... I was forced to accept that I might die and my chances of survival felt very slim."

Lenora Mahanga, 20, the eldest of a group of five - the youngest just 13 - was sentenced by Judge Brooke Gibson in the Auckland District Court to a total of six years seven months' imprisonment.

The judge said it may be many years before the public is safe from Mahanga.

"I would be surprised if you didn't constitute a risk to the public even after you have completed your sentence," he said.

Lenora Mahanga was sentenced to six years seven months' imprisonment. Photo / Dean Purcell​
Lenora Mahanga was sentenced to six years seven months' imprisonment. Photo / Dean Purcell​

At about 10pm on the night of the kidnapping, the two victims spotted the pack of young people attempting to break into their car on the street near the University of Auckland.

One of the women yelled at the group, trying to scare them off, however, it only agitated one of the group, a 15-year-old boy.

He approached her and punched her in the face - dislocating her jaw - before landing five more blows as she lay on the ground.

Her friend tried to run for help but was tackled to the ground by a 14-year-old girl.


The other of the group's young men, also just 15, then revealed a screwdriver and held it to one of the women's throats, threatening to stab them if they didn't surrender their car keys.

But the car didn't start at first.

The group would then wander about the city centre for 90 minutes searching for another vehicle, all the while holding their victims captive and telling them if they screamed for help they would be killed.

Mahanga would laugh at the group's prisoners, slapping them across the face when she asked why they were too scared to attempt an escape.

The group made their way to Parnell and stumbled upon a Mazda Demio.

Their two hostages were bundled into the boot of the stolen car, which was driven south.

Unaware of the kidnapping, a Counties Manukau Police unit saw the stolen car travelling in convoy with another vehicle and gave chase.

However, both drivers refused to stop and the stolen Mazda continued onto the Southern Motorway before exiting at Ramarama.

The pursuit ended dramatically when the Mazda was driven off the side of a bridge and down a five metre bank.

Police found the two victims still in the boot of the crashed car, before they were taken to Middlemore Hospital.

Three of the group of youths were arrested at the scene, while the police Eagle helicopter searched for the second vehicle.

It was found at a Manurewa property and the remaining two were arrested.

Lenora Mahanga's offending occurred while on bail. Photo / Dean Purcell
Lenora Mahanga's offending occurred while on bail. Photo / Dean Purcell

One of the victims said her injuries from the crash also included concussion and several lacerations.

"I now find myself having to deal with high levels of anxiety. I also suffer from nightmares and still have trouble sleeping," she said.

"I feel insecure walking the streets ... [and am] constantly exhausted and physically drained.

"I can no longer view the world as a safe comfortable place.

"I don't know what is going to make this right for me and I do not see any punishment that is going to change the effects this has had on me and my life.

"I would feel safer knowing that the offender is not on the streets. I dread the day that I may come face to face with them on the street."

Her car, she said, had only been bought just three days earlier and was now a write-off.

Crown prosecutor Benjamin Mugisho told the court Mahanga's excuse for the kidnapping was the group needed transport for the night.

Judge Gibson said if the car had not crashed he feared a far more serious outcome would have occurred.

"How you could treat people like that is simply beyond me," he told Mahanga.

"It will be many years before the public are safe from you. I would be surprised if you didn't constitute a risk to the public even after you have completed your sentence."

Mahanga, supported in court by her father and mother, was sentenced on two charges each of kidnapping, aggravated robbery, unlawful interference of a motor vehicle, and one charge of unlawfully taking a motor vehicle.

Judge Gibson also sentenced Mahanga on 14 further charges.

Her "mini crime wave", as Judge Gibson called it, began in Whangarei and included stealing her aunt's car while drunk before crashing it into a power box - causing a power cut to part of the city.

Granted bail, she was caught again in Manukau trying to steal a car.

Again she was granted bail but breached her bail conditions six times.

In October last year she and another group of youths, the driver just 12 years old, stole petrol from a service station and demanded a handbag from a young woman on the side of the road.

She was again granted bail before police caught her stealing another car.

Mahanga was also charged with wilfully attempting to pervert the course of justice for giving police false details.

The court heard Mahanga also pleaded guilty last month to two more charges in the North Shore District Court for stealing a car.

The 13-year-old girl in the group was referred to Youth Aid, while the two 15-year-olds and the 14-year-old were placed before the Youth Court.

They were each charged with two counts kidnapping each, aggravated robbery, unlawful interference of a motor vehicle, and unlawfully taking a motor vehicle.

One of the 15 year olds was also charged with dangerous driving causing injury.

Mahanga was in a relationship with one of the boys, the court heard.