Jail terms totalling 31 years 9 months have been imposed on three Bandidos gang associates and the woman who instigated the planned stabbing of man she had been due to marry next day.
The bloody incident at a housebus in Johns Road, Christchurch, on August 30, 2015, left two men injured and a woman assaulted.
Nicholas Andrew Hanson, 31, a gang prospect, and Stephanie Jane McGrath, 27, pleaded guilty before the trial to charges of wounding two men and assaulting a woman. Hanson, the principal offender who carried out the stabbings, was jailed for 10 years 9 months, and McGrath for 6 years.
Jesse James Winter, 29, and Alvin Ritesh Kumar, a 34-year-old factory hand from Woolston, were found guilty at the trial. Winter was jailed for 8 years and Kumar for 7 years.
Judge Stephen O’Driscoll said it had been a “frenzied” attack by Hanson which left two victims with slash and stab wounds to the face, head, and hands.
Crown prosecutor Donald Matthews said: “These four people joined together in a common plan to seriously assault someone, knowing that knives were being brought along, with serious consequences.”
The trial was told that after the stabbing and assault when the group turned up at a birthday celebration at the housebus, the police found a marriage licence for McGrath for a wedding that was to take place next day. The trial was told the couple were in “a volatile relationship” and the group was looking for the groom when the assaults took place. He was not there.
At the trial, the Crown said the man who came to the door of the housebus was slashed in the face by Hanson and then stabbed several times. Hanson then stabbed the second man in the head and the other two members of the group – Kumar and Winter – punched and kicked him.
Hanson kicked the woman to the ground when she tried to intervene, and she received a cut to the hand as she tried to protect herself.
As the group left, they were still threatening the groom. They were heard saying that he was “finished” and he was going to die.
Defence counsel Alister James said Hanson had written letters of apology to the victims. He had expressed his remorse, and he had a $3000 bank cheque available at court to offer as emotional harm reparations to the victims.
Mr James said: “He has now been in custody for some time. He has come to accept responsibility for what took place. He now wishes to take advantage of the rehabilitation programmes that would be offered to him while serving his sentence of imprisonment.”
Counsel for McGrath, Ruth Buddicom, said her client had written letters of apology to the victims. She had been “clearly devastated when she found out what had occurred”.
She had succeeded with the work she had done in prison on remand and she was a good candidate for rehabilitation.
The Crown had said the incident arose from a grievance she had. “That understates the horror of what she had experienced – there had been elements of terror and real fear,” Miss Buddicom told the judge.
Richard Maze, defence counsel for Kumar, said his client was not a gang member, and had distanced himself from gang associations. “His friendship with the associates ended on that night because of the violence.”
He said: “This was not gang warfare. This was a personal issue.”
Once he finished his parole, Kumar would return to Fiji to live with his family, Mr Maze said.
Andrew Bailey said Winter was now facing his first prison sentence. He said one of the victims had exaggerated the seriousness of his injuries in his evidence at the trial in July and in his victim impact statement.
Judge O’Driscoll said the attack had been on “completely and utterly innocent victims”. It was premeditated offending, with a plan for serious violence involving a weapon. The attack had inflicted serious injuries in the course of “vigilante action”, but he believed it did not involve gang warfare.
Hanson was also sentenced on charges of unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition, unlawfully taking a motorcycle, breach of release conditions, breach of bail, and cancellation of a supervision sentence.
A non-parole term was imposed on Hanson.