Sawn-off shotgun used in BOP thefts
A man who drove around two Bay of Plenty towns threatening people up with a sawn-off shotgun to take their shoes, watches and phones has been jailed for 14 years after clocking up his “third strike” offence.
Zenyata Thomson, 23, picked up a mate in Kawerau at about 3am on October 15, 2019, telling him he wanted to complete some “missions”. The pair and a third mate drove around town for a while.
Thomson produced a sawn-off shotgun, held it to his mate’s head and told him to “take his gear off”. The mate handed Thomson his Nike Air Max shoes, a gold watch and a jacket. Thomson dropped him off, telling him that if he “snitched” he would find him.
The following evening Thomson and two juveniles approached a parked car in Kawerau. Thomson pointed the sawn-off shotgun at the car’s two occupants, then took control of the car and drove it around town with the occupants still in the car.
He pointed the gun at the head of one of the occupants and took from them their baseball caps and a jacket. Then he dropped them off and drove to Whakatāne, with the two juveniles.
In Whakatāne he pulled up to a man walking along a street, pointed the gun at him and told him to unlock his iPhone and hand it over. The man did as he asked.
Thomson then rammed his car into another car, with two occupants in it, causing the car to spin and stop. He then approached the car with the gun and demanded that one of the occupants hand over his watch, which he did.
He then pulled the other occupant out of the car, assaulted him with punches and kicks to his body, then forcibly took his watch, a chain and a baseball cap.
Thomson then drove on the wrong side of the road and intentionally ran into the side of another car travelling in the same direction.
Shortly after this police tried to stop Thomson by activating their sirens and lights. He responded by switching off his headlights and speeding away. He was stopped by police laying spikes across the road.
Thomson pleaded guilty to six charges of aggravated robbery, two charges of dangerous driving, one charge of failing to stop and one charge of being in unlawful possession of a firearm.
Because he had two “strikes” for previous offending, he appeared in the High Court in Tauranga, before Justice Graham Lang.
Lang told Thomson the third strike meant there was no option but to sentence him to the maximum sentence, which in this case was 14 years in jail for aggravated robbery.
The Three Strikes legislation has a provision that, in exceptional circumstances where it would be manifestly unjust to do so, a judge can decline an order that the offender serve a full sentence without parole.
Justice Lang said Thomson’s offending was serious and had considerable effects on his victims, but he did not agree with the Crown’s submission that it was premeditated.
The offending was “opportunistic” and the judge noted the firearm had not been loaded, though “this would have been of little comfort to the victims”.
Thomson had four previous convictions for aggravated robbery and had been sentenced to jail in 2015, 2016 and 2018.
A psychiatrist's report pointed to a history of family violence and physical abuse. Thomson left school at 15 without any qualifications and had never had a job. He had no connection with his iwi and no knowledge of anything related to his cultural background.