A couple have been jailed for a $130,000 jewellery heist where they worked together, one deceiving store staff while the other grabbed rings and bracelets and ran.

Anthony Gene Wharton, 44, was described by his lawyer as being "hungry for drugs" when he ripped off the stores in Rotorua, Auckland and Hamilton with his partner, Kayla Huhana Matatahi, 20.

They were sentenced separately on slightly different charges before Judge Alayne Wills on Tuesday in the Rotorua District Court.

Both were charged with stealing gold and diamond bracelets from Hart Jewellers, Hamilton valued at $26,257, rings and bracelets from Otahuhu Jewellers worth $10,000 and bracelets from Michael Hill Jewellers Rotorua worth $97,374.


The three thefts on two separate days in May saw Matatahi walk into each store and ask to look at jewellery. While it was on the counter Wharton would grab the jewellery and run.

"[Matatahi] would remain in the store and appear shocked by what had happened then leave before being spoken to," Judge Wills said.

Matatahi also faced a driving while disqualified charge, failing to answer bail charge and breach of bail charges.

Wharton had two additional charges for burglaries from residential homes in the Kaingaroa Forest in March and charges of breaching release conditions, breaching community work, failing to answer bail, and possession of items used to consume drugs.

Anthony Wharton at a previous appearance. Photo / File
Anthony Wharton at a previous appearance. Photo / File

Wharton pleaded guilty to his charges in June.

The pair both have a history of offending and Judge Wills said Matatahi had accumulated 18 convictions over 30 months.

She told Matatahi her part in the offending was "critical" to its success.

Of Wharton she said: "You have spent a lot of time in prison already. In fact, maybe you have spent more time in prison than out of it."


Matatahi's lawyer, Dafydd Malcolm, said she had been influenced by Wharton.

"She's in a relationship with her co-offender who is significantly older and someone with a lot more history than her, and a history of this type of offending."

Wharton's lawyer, Rachelle Cavanagh, said his burglary offences were "unsophisticated" and because he was "hungry for drugs".

During the two burglaries Wharton took a television, pounamu, jewellery, a spoon collection and war memorabilia.

Since then he has returned the television and pounamu, which Judge Wills gave him credit for.

Judge Wills said a sentence of imprisonment was the only appropriate sentence for the couple.

She sentenced Matatahi to 12 months' imprisonment on the three shoplifting charges and six months disqualification from driving on her driving while disqualified charge.

Matatahi is able to apply for a home detention sentence.

She was convicted and discharged for failing to answer bail and convicted and had her sentences cancelled on her breach of bail charges.

The judge sentenced Wharton to one year and seven months' imprisonment for the theft and burglary charges.

She convicted him but didn't add time for his community work and bail breaches, and sentenced him to two weeks for possession of cannabis and methamphetamine, to be served concurrently.

Judge Wills told Wharton to take part in a drug use programme in prison but did not order the pair to pay any reparation.

"The reason for that is not because it is not owed, it is, but to impose reparation would be unrealistic. It would not be paid."