Mongrel Mob member jailed for horrifying home invasion

Vincent Mahara (30) will serve all of his near-five-year sentence because he has received two...
Vincent Mahara (30) will serve all of his near-five-year sentence because he has received two strikes under three-strike legislation. PHOTO: ROB KIDD
A terrified Dunedin couple and their 8-month-old baby barricaded themselves inside a room of their home while an armed gang member demanded cash and drugs, a court has heard.

Vincent Praire Mahara (30) appeared in the Dunedin District Court yesterday where he was jailed for four years and 11 months on a charge of aggravated burglary.

The patched Mongrel Mob member will serve every day of the sentence because it was his second-strike offence under the controversial three-strikes regime.

Mahara and associates — whom he refused to implicate — drove to an Opoho house on July 3 last year in a red Ford Falcon.

Initially he tried to open a ranch-slider at the front of the one-bedroom unit, but when he found it locked he moved to a door at the side of the house.

Seeing a large stranger decked out in gang regalia, the occupants refused to open up and immediately called police.

Mahara, though, would not be deterred.

A minute later he was back at the door, this time wielding a long-barrelled firearm.

Five kicks shattered the door frame and he was quickly joined by another man, also armed with a similar weapon.

The residents — a couple, their baby and an adult guest — locked an internal glass door in a bid to keep the intruders out of the lounge, then barricaded themselves inside a bedroom.

Mahara kicked his way through another door and demanded drugs and money from those shut inside the bedroom.

“The defendant repeatedly kicked and barged the bedroom door whilst the occupants held their backs against the door frantically trying to prevent the defendant and his associate from entering the bedroom,” a police summary said.

"The door opened enough for the defendant to push the gun barrel through the gap into the bedroom. The occupants saw the gun barrel and yelled they had a baby in the room."

Neither that nor the threat that police were on their way prompted Mahara to leave.

The baby was crying loudly throughout the incident, the court heard.

Eventually they fled before officers arrived, but Mahara was later caught in the red Ford in Milton that evening.

No firearms were recovered.

Counsel Len Andersen QC said his client’s background was such that there had been a "normalisation of violence".

Indeed, the specifics of what Mahara endured as a child were suppressed because they were so "horrific".

The deprivation the defendant suffered, Mr Andersen said, inevitably led to gang involvement but he now accepted he must cut ties with the Mongrel Mob to change his life.

Judge Michael Turner said Mahara had almost constantly committed violent crimes since 2006 and had extensive rehabilitative needs.

He was using methamphetamine three times a day at the time of the aggravated burglary and believed there was cash or illicit substances at the house, the court heard.

The judge accepted there was a clear link between the defendant’s upbringing and his criminality.

“Your moral compass was set on an antisocial course, none of that was your doing,” he said.

Judge Turner noted Mahara had several children but the existence of protection orders meant contact with them was minimal.

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