A man who dragged his girlfriend more than 1km behind a car
wrote to her from jail and got her to change her statement, a
court has been told.
Sonny Te Aramoana Waiti, 26, was sentenced in Rotorua
District Court today to six years and five months' prison for
kidnapping 37-year-old Rotorua mother Ana Eriepa on May 25.
Judge James Weir ordered Waiti serve a minimum period of four
Waiti, a patched member of the Mongrel Mob, locked Ms Eriepa
in a car boot after accusing her of cheating on him. He then
drove erratically at high speed along State Highway 1 between
Tokoroa and Putaruru.
Ms Eriepa tried to escape but her foot got caught and she was
dragged along the road at 90-100km/h for at least 1.6km
before she was thrown free. She suffered injuries over much
of her body and her lower leg had to be amputated.
Ms Eriepa, who was in court today to support Waiti, handed
the judge up a statement saying she had got into the boot of
her own free will.
Judge Weir disregarded that, referring to a letter Waiti
wrote Ms Eriepa from jail in which he told her "you just have
to tell the pigs you wanted to be in the boot [and] I never
The judge said the letter was a "clear attempt to manipulate"
Ms Eriepa, who had regularly visited Waiti since the
incident. The pair remain in a relationship, with Waiti
telling a probation officer he intended to marry Ms Eriepa on
As Judge Weir delivered his sentence, Waiti interrupted and
told the judge "you are only seeing this from your high horse
. . . I did not force her to write the letter".
The judge ordered Waiti be taken to the cells and adjourned
court for 20 minutes.
Earlier, Crown prosecutor Amanda Gordon said Waiti had shown
She said Ms Eriepa had written a letter "urging the court to
take a merciful approach to sentencing".
Ms Gordon said it would have been foreseeable to Waiti that
Ms Eriepa would try to escape from the boot and suffer
Defence lawyer Moana Dorset disagreed.
"He had no idea and it never occurred to him that she would
jump out of the boot," she said. "The injuries suffered were
not intended by him."
Waiti, who been released from prison three weeks before the
kidnapping, told police at the time he had been smoking
cannabis and methamphetamine continuously.
Waiti also told police he had put Ms Eriepa in the car boot
"to show her that he loved her".
"That explanation probably gives some insight into your
twisted, bizarre thinking at the time," the judge said.
The judge said Waiti had 25 previous violence convictions and
was considered a high risk of reoffending.
Outside court, Waiti's former guardian Marie Tai said Waiti
was "a good boy" and his letter had nothing to do with Ms
Eriepa changing her statement.
- By Katie Holland of the Rotorua Daily Post