Jail over plot to steal friend's car

Melveen Singh (21) was driven to crime by his drug, alcohol and gambling addictions, the court...
Melveen Singh (21) was driven to crime by his drug, alcohol and gambling addictions, the court heard. PHOTO: ROB KIDD
A man who lured his mate to an isolated beach so he could steal his car has been jailed for nearly two years.

Melveen Morgel Singh (21) came before the Dunedin District Court yesterday having admitted a charge of demanding with menaces.

‘‘I am of the very firm view this was a determined piece of offending, premeditated, highly planned, the effect on your victim was so significant and the property demanded and subsequently taken, although returned, equally significant,’’ Judge Emma Smith said.

On March 3, Singh messaged his victim suggesting a trip to Aramoana.

He agreed and they travelled to the settlement in the victim’s Holden Commodore.

After walking along the beach, on their way back to the car park, the duo were confronted by 33-year-old Damien Walker who demanded to know what personal items he was carrying.

The victim had no idea at the time but Singh and Walker had cooked up the plan beforehand but the subterfuge soon became clear.

Concerned Walker had a knife in his pocket, the man handed over the car keys at Singh’s suggestion.

Surprisingly for the victim, his assailant knew exactly which vehicle they had travelled in and when Singh got in with him the plot was finally clear.

Desperate to avoid being stranded, the victim tried to grab the keys back but he eventually backed off after the defendants’ violent threats.

Singh eventually left in the Holden while Walker drove off in his own car.

‘‘In rather a bizarre way’’, Judge Smith said, Singh claimed he had owned the vehicle and it had been stolen by someone else.

He later admitted he had stolen the car because he believed the man owed him money.

Yet there was even more to the defendant’s precarious legal position.

Last year he was found guilty of receiving and dangerous driving for which he was sentenced to 12 months’ supervision and 80 hours’ community work.

He was charged with breaching the sentence because his performance was ‘‘woeful’’, said the judge.

Singh failed to report to Probation 13 times and barely started his community work, explaining he ‘‘couldn’t be stuffed’’.

Counsel Karlena Lawrence said her client’s problems were directly attributable to his addictions to methamphetamine, alcohol and gambling.

When it came to drugs, Singh previously told the court he would use ‘‘anything I can get my hands on’’.

His issues also went back further, said Ms Lawrence.

Singh was repeatedly separated from his family through his childhood and was living independently at 15.

‘‘He has no grounded family dynamic or ties to cultural heritage,’’ she said.

Singh, who had already been behind bars for six months, was locked up for 22 and a half months.

Judge Smith gave him leave to have that converted to home detention should a valid address be found.





Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter