A Katikati man who claimed to be head of the Rotorua Mongrel Mob and robbed Tauranga taxi driver Dev Sangha will not be serving time in jail.
Instead David James, 23, who earlier admitted charges of robbery and possession of a cannabis pipe, was sentenced in Tauranga District Court to eight months' home detention and 250 hours' community work.
James was also ordered to pay Mr Sangha $500 for emotional harm and to also repay the $65 he stole.
Mr Sangha was not at court yesterday but was on Friday when Deepak Nagpal, who already faced a murder charge for the death of Mr Sangha's wife, was further charged with the murder of the couple's daughter Anna.
The robbery unfolded after James was picked up from Exeter St, Bayfair about 8.30pm on March 22 and asked to be taken to Tara Rd, Papamoa.
During the journey James told his victim he had gang connections, claimed to be the head of the Rotorua chapter of the Mongrel Mob and demanded money from 37-year-old Mr Sangha who handed over $65.
On arrival at their destination, James made further threats and demands for cash and attempted to punch his victim.
James told Mr Sangha not to tell the police, saying he had a gun at home and would come back and shoot him.
When police searched James' house the next morning they found a cannabis pipe. He initially denied the robbery but later confessed and said he had been intoxicated at the time.
His lawyer Gerald McArthur successfully argued before Judge Peter Rollo for a sentence of eight to nine months home detention, which he said could include a condition that James attend counselling to address his drug and alcohol abuse issues and any psychological issues relating to his offending. The court heard James had been drinking on the night and taking medication for depression after a long-standing relationship broke up.
Mr McArthur said the behaviour was out of character.
Mr McArthur said James hoped to return to England to make a fresh start as soon as possible but wanted to complete rehabilitative programmes first and also offered to pay reparation to his victim.
Mr McArthur also successfully argued for James employment details to be suppressed, saying it was unrelated to his offending.
Judge Rollo said while no violence was involved, serious threats were made.
However Judge Rollo said James' pre-sentence report contained a number of positive aspects and his expression of remorse was more sincere than many others who came before the courts.
The judge said James' personal circumstances, including depression and taking medication at the time of the robbery, were relevant but his drinking was not excuse or mitigating factor.