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Sentence deferred for Michael Hill smash-and-grab

The teenager responsible for a 10-day crime spree last October that included a smash-and-grab robbery at Masterton’s Michael Hill jewellery store has had his sentencing deferred again.

Dontae Gray, 19, appeared in Masterton District Court last Wednesday to be sentenced for 18 charges, including aggravated robbery, dangerous driving, unlawfully possessing a pistol, and possessing methamphetamine.

His initial sentencing date in May was deferred to June after the court failed to produce a cultural report and a drug and alcohol report Judge Barbara Morris had ordered.

Last week Judge Noel Sainsbury deferred the sentencing for another six weeks, giving Gray time to get into an intensive drug rehabilitation programme.

The reports ordered by Judge Morris said that Gray had been using methamphetamine since he was 11 years old and struggled with reading and writing.

It said Gray’s thinking had become clearer since being unable to use methamphetamine while in custody.

Judge Sainsbury did not want to proceed with sentencing until Gray had been placed in drug rehabilitation, ideally at Moana House in Dunedin.

“I talked with Judge Morris yesterday. We both agreed that you’re going to need a bit of help to kick that methamphetamine, but there’s quite a bit of work to do to get on top of that.

“As soon as you’re out of prison, it [meth] will have another go at you again,” Sainsbury said.

“We both thought there would be real value if you could get into a residential rehab programme out of prison.”

Judge Sainsbury said time spent in rehabilitation would count against the final sentence; before discounts, the starting sentence for Gray’s offending is 3 years and 10 months imprisonment.

Witnesses to the Michael Hill smash-and-grab on October 6, 2022, said it sounded like a car crash.

Police said Gray smashed several display cabinets at the store and left with an unknown quantity of jewellery in a black Subaru Legacy saloon.

Over the next 10 days, he committed other aggravated robberies at Palmerston North stores and stole a car.

On October 16, police “sighted a person of interest” – Gray – on Worksop Rd in Masterton.

Police said the vehicle was signalled to stop, but it fled and was tracked by police units in the area.

“The vehicle was sighted turning into Mikimiki Rd and was subsequently spiked, and the occupant dumped the vehicle and fled. He was arrested a short time later.”

Gray will reappear in Masterton District Court to be sentenced on August 18.

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