A 24-year-old first offender wiped away tears as he was jailed for a meth-fuelled home invasion and drugs robbery in which the victim was bashed and tied.
“Be strong,” a supporter called from the also tearful group in the public seats as Ethan John Waugh began a five-year seven-month jail sentence for aggravated robbery. He had pleaded guilty.
Christchurch District Court Judge Alistair Garland said: “Unfortunately, this offending is yet another case that appears to be driven by an addiction to methamphetamine, after an offender has moved on from a cannabis habit.”
The raid on a property in Hills Street, Kaiapoi, took place in the early hours of July 15 with a plan involving Waugh and two other offenders. It was premeditated, Judge Garland said. “You targeted his house because you knew there was cannabis there.”
Crown prosecutor Chris Bernhardt described it as “a very serious aggravated robbery” and cited other cases indicating a sentencing starting point for the judge of between 7 and 9 years imprisonment.
Judge Garland said he accepted that provisions for a serious sentencing uplift remained for cases involving home invasion.
Defence counsel Peter Doody asked the judge to adopted a lower starting point, and to take into account Waugh’s guilty plea, his relative youth, and his status as a first offender. A doctor’s letter also raised issues of depression.
The court was told that Waugh gone through a detoxification course while on remand. He had also begun the Salvation Army’s Bridge programme but had been discharged because he had admitted bringing methamphetamine onto the premises of the programme and using it.
Judge Garland said Waugh instigated the raid to get cannabis, and entered the house through an open window. He found the victim in the lounge where he punched him to the floor and then repeatedly punched him in the head, face, and shoulders for three to five minutes.
The beating only stopped when the victim pretended he was unconscious. By then he had bruising and cuts, a wound to the side of the head that required stapling, and broken bones in his face. He would need hospitalisation.
Waugh then let a young associate in and they bound the hands and feet of the victim and left him lying on the floor. He managed to get free and sat on the couch while Waugh and the other offender took several cannabis plants, growing equipment, $180 cash, a cellphone, and keys to his car.
Waugh stopped the victim using a landline by putting the handsets in the toilet or hiding them.
The third associate helped load the stolen goods into Waugh’s car and the victim’s car. When they left, the victim sought help from a neighbour and his $9400 car was later found burnt-out in Ferry Road, Kaiapoi. The Crown does not know who burnt it.
Judge Garland said Waugh was assessed as a low risk of re-offending, but a medium risk of causing harm to others. He acknowledged receiving letters from the Salvation Army, and Waugh’s doctor. He had also read a letter from Waugh about his drug addiction issue.
The robbery was serious because it involved a home invasion, premeditation, violence, detention, and serious injuries, said the judge, imposing the five-year seven-month jail term. He made no reparation order.
One other offender is still before the Youth Court, and the one who loaded the cars but did not enter the house has been allowed the police’s diversion scheme for first offenders.