Offender on the run had semi-automatic rifle

While on the run from an assault in which his ex-partner feared he would kill her, a Black Power gang member was found by police at a Christchurch motel room with a loaded semi-automatic rifle.

Tihina Edwards has now been jailed for four years four months for about two months of lawless behaviour, and given a warning about his future by Christchurch District Court Judge Stephen O’Driscoll.

Edwards’ defence counsel Paul Johnson said the 32-year-old Shirley man had now “broken his ties with the Black Power gang completely”, but the judge said only time would tell whether that was true.

The judge told Edwards he needed to address the issues that had led to his offending, or he would continue to be handed lengthy jail terms. “Otherwise you will wake up aged 50 or 60 in a prison cell and wonder why you have wasted your life. You need to get back to your roots, your whanau, and address your offending.”

Edwards punched the door hard as the court session ended and he was led to the cells to begin his lengthy term on 10 charges.

Judge O’Driscoll said Edwards had gone to the home of ex-partner in the morning of September 26, 2017, and entered the unlocked house, after she had declined a texted lunch invitation.

He punched the woman, kicked her in the head, and choked her so badly that she began to lose consciousness. He stopped when his mother came into the house and intervened. She had arrived in the car with him.

The woman believed she was going to die in the attack, which left her with scratches and bruises, marks on her neck, and a black eye.

Edwards was on the run, while on bail on those charges of injuring and threatening to kill, when police found him in a motel room in Bealey Avenue on October 25. He had an SKS semi-automatic rifle and ammunition. The weapon was loaded, and he also had a working taser, which is a restricted weapon.

He also admitted charges of breaching prison release conditions, dangerous driving, driving while disqualified, and failing to stop for the police. He drove through red lights and went onto the wrong side the road causing other drivers to take evasive action.

When he was in court in October 2017, he jumped out of the dock and resisted the police and Court Safety Officers who held him among the public seating and tried to handcuff him.

Judge O’Driscoll reduced the jail term by a year because of the contents of a cultural report prepared for Edwards’ sentencing. It showed he had a Mongrel Mob father and had been removed into care when he was seven. He was abused while in State care, where he remained until he was 16.

Edwards had now indicated that he wanted to reconnect with his Ngai Tahu background.

The judge also reduced the sentence because of his guilty pleas, but he said his attack on the woman had been “cowardly” and his possession of that type of rifle “can only have been for a sinister and illegal purpose”.