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Court watch wrap up

In addition to two cases reported earlier this week, the following sentences were handed down in Masterton District Court on Tuesday.

Home detention
for ‘hiccup’

Danial Mokoraka appeared for a raft of charges relating to cultivating and possessing cannabis, possessing methamphetamine and ecstasy, unlawfully possessing ammunition and a pistol or restricted weapon, and breaching standard release conditions.

Defence counsel Ian Hard described the charges as “a bit of a hiccup”.

“He has very good family support and is very capable. He has trade skills and is a young man with potential,” Hard said.

“These charges are of lesser significance than he’s had in the past, and I would argue that an electronically monitored sentence would be suitable given his background.”

Fingerprints found on a package sent to prison led to Mokoraka’s address, where police found a pistol in the bedroom and ammunition and drugs in the house, as well as “a quantity of cash”.

Ten cannabis plants with a commercial value of $7000 were also found.

Mokoraka had five previous convictions relating to cannabis, among others.

Judge Katie Elkin acknowledged his addiction issues and difficult upbringing.

Mokoraka was sentenced to two and a half months of home detention, subject to special conditions that will continue for six months after the sentence is completed.

Shearer up on supply

Levi Epps appeared on one charge of receiving property [over $1000] and one charge of possessing cannabis for supply.

Defence counsel Mike Kilbride said Epps is now working as a shearer and is entering a busy season.

He said Epps has been compliant with bail conditions and provided a letter of recommendation from his employer.

Kilbride said the cannabis was supplied to a small group of close friends.

A search warrant executed by police at Epps’ address had uncovered multiple bags of cannabis, scales for weighing, and a stolen motorbike on the property.

Judge Katie Elkin noted Epps is involved in his children’s lives in a positive way.

Given this and his limited conviction history, she sentenced Epps to six months of community detention with a curfew between 8pm and 4.30am.

He was also sentenced to nine months of supervision and directed to take part in an alcohol and drug program and a tikanga Māori programme.

Prison for assault

Henare Potatu was charged with assault on a person in a family relationship.

Defence counsel Andra Mobberley said that, given his upbringing and history of trauma, Potatu had done very well at succeeding “as well as he has”.

She said he took responsibility immediately and had spent three months in custody.

There was no victim impact statement, and police didn’t seek a protection order.

Reading out the relevant facts, Judge Katie Elkin said in September Potatu pulled his partner of nine months out of bed, pushed her to the ground, and applied pressure to her neck.

“The victim was vulnerable, as she was asleep when the assault began.”

She noted Potatu’s background, mental health, and signs of remorse.

“You are genuinely upset and remorseful,” Elkin said.

“You had a lot of childhood trauma and violence in your upbringing, there’s intergenerational trauma there.”

Potatu was sentenced to five months in prison, subject to the time already spent in custody.

He was also told to undertake family violence and tikanga Māori programmes.

Driving disqualification

Charged with driving with excess breath alcohol, Thomas Harte represented himself.

When stopped by police in Carterton, Harte blew 538 mcg of alcohol per litre of breath, which Judge Katie Elkin said was significant.

“It’s more than twice the legal limit, and you have a history of drink-drive offending.”

The pre-sentence report showed Harte had seven previous offences relating to excess breath alcohol.

Harte said he didn’t own a vehicle or need to drive.

He was sentenced to five months of community detention with a curfew of 8pm to 5am, and nine months of supervision.

He was also disqualified from driving for one year and one day.

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