Tāne held at knife-point, robbed during hook up

By Contributor

David Liam Andrew was sentenced in the Whangārei District Court last week. Photo/ NZME

By Sarah Curtis, Open Justice multimedia journalist, Te Tai Tokerau

What was meant to be a sexual rendezvous turned into a terrifying knife-point robbery for a man who accepted a woman's offer to meet.

Mere Gilbert, 29, suggested they go to an Airbnb so he picked her up and bought takeaways on the way.

They were eating and watching TV together in the rented Whangārei room when Gilbert excused herself to use the toilet in another part of the building but returned with a male friend, David Liam Andrew, 34.

Andrew sat beside the man on a bed waiting for the pair to finish eating, then pushed the man backwards and covered his mouth.

Gilbert and Andrew pulled out knives they were carrying, Andrew putting his one to the man's neck and threatening to kill him if he did not hand over his car keys.

Gilbert used her knife to cut the strap of the man's waist bag, taking from it the keys for his car and house, his driver's licence, eftpos card, phone, and $500.

She and Andrew fled in the man's car. Their fingerprints were on the outside of it when it was found later in Park Avenue, Whangārei.

Gilbert has already been sentenced for her role but Andrew was jailed this week for 25 months by Judge Gene Tomlinson in the Whangārei District Court.

The sentence was based on a starting point of four years' imprisonment decided by another judge for Gilbert and accepted by Andrew at a sentence indication hearing in April.

Andrew subsequently pleaded guilty to a single charge of aggravated robbery.

Tomlinson said Andrew and Gilbert were equally culpable. Each played different but equally essential roles in the robbery.

The judge noted Andrew was not charged for his threat to kill the man.

In a victim statement for the court, the man said he was too scared to leave his house after the incident and had since left his job and moved away through fear of being revisited by Gilbert and Andrew.

"They threatened me, they said they would kill me. I was so scared. I hope they stay in jail for a long time," the victim said.

Andrew did not have a bad criminal history but one that was littered with non-compliance and possession of drugs - "heaps of drugs," Tomlinson said.

Except for a conviction for assaulting a female in 2013, this was Andrew's only conviction for violence.

Discounts to the sentence starting point for mitigating factors amounted to 40 per cent - nearly 20 months.

He got a full 25 per cent discount for his guilty plea and a 15 per cent discount for background factors traversed in a cultural report. There was a clear link between those factors and the offending, Tomlinson said.

Andrew had been addicted to methamphetamine for 20 years (since he was 14) and was stealing to buy it.

"You had a lot to deal with in your life including loss and the passing of people close to you and that has just reinforced your use of drugs," the judge said.

Included in that discount was credit for remorse. The judge recited part of Andrew's letter to the court: "I have utmost remorse for my actions and want to apologise to all especially the victim and his family, I have no excuses and accept any punishment."

Andrew got a further three months' discount for his time on electronically monitored (EM) bail and his efforts at drug rehabilitation, albeit unsuccessful.

Tomlinson said, "The real test, Mr Andrew, is that if you fail, keep trying".

Andrew was remanded in custody for a while so his sentence could have been reduced to within the 24-month threshold for conversion to home detention, Tomlinson said. But it was not appropriate because Andrew breached his previous EM bail by covering his tracker with tin foil.