Community sentence for repeat threat to WINZ staff

A Somerfield man has avoided another jail term for his second firearm threat to Work and Income staff but he has effectively served a seven-month prison term on remand.

Christchurch District Court Judge Tom Gilbert took the jail time into account when he decided Mitchell Shane Moulton could serve his time as community detention at home with his mother.

His mother is terminally ill, and Moulton wants to spend time at home supporting her in her last months.

Imposing the community-based sentence, Judge Gilbert warned Moulton not to “stuff this up” or he would not be present when his mother needed his support the most.

Moulton now faces drug treatment as a condition of his sentence, and he also wants to undergo anger management to control the outbursts that have repeatedly sent him into custody.

He was jailed in 2016 for making threats and firing a shot outside the Linwood Work and Income offices in Aldwins Road. He had been up all night taking methamphetamine before the incident.

He was jailed for two years eight months. After his arrest, he apologised to the Work and Income staff he threatened, and the regional manager, during a restorative justice conference.

On October 30, 2018, he rang up WINZ to change an appointment but became abusive on the phone. His mother took over the call but Moulton could be heard in the background saying, “No wonder you get shot at. I will be there soon with my gun.”

The threat led to WINZ offices being locked down for two hours. Police found Moulton at home and searched his address. He said that he had only been “ranting and raving” and they found no firearm, but they did find pipes for smoking methamphetamine, cannabis, and an offensive weapon – a knuckle-duster.

Prosecutor Senior Sergeant Anna Lloyd said police and WINZ had taken the threat seriously, because Moulton had done it before and a shot had been fired.

Defence counsel Michelle Barrell said that although Moulton had made a threat, he had not followed up on it this time. He needed on-going support to manage his behaviour in difficult situations.

Judge Gilbert said that Moulton’s mental health was now stable and he was properly established on medication. He had quite a positive report from probation which recommended community detention and intensive supervision, and he had work available.

He told him that if he stayed off the drugs, stayed on his medication, engaged in the rehabilitation, and continued his employment, he could still “make a decent fist of your life”.

“Otherwise I would expect things to unravel,” said the judge, sentencing him to five months’ community detention on charges of threatening to kill, possession of an offensive weapon, and possession of drug pipes, and a year of intensive supervision by probation.

Moulton had also admitted charges from an earlier incident where he drove dangerously at up to 80km an hour through suburban Christchurch, and refused a blood-test for drugged driving. Judge Gilbert disqualified him from driving for 13 months.