Man jailed for making threats to kill, bomb

AOS members approach a property on Heriot Row this afternoon. Photo: Craig Baxter
AOS members approach the man's flat on Heriot Row last year. Photo: Craig Baxter
A man has been jailed for threatening a Dunedin killing spree, calling police with a fake bomb threat.

At 4.50pm on March 9, Tai Somerford, 28, called 111 and advised two bombs had been planted in the Dunedin area, telling police they had 40 minutes to respond or "a lot of people are going to get hurt".

He also claimed to have committed a kidnapping after the police "screwed someone over", the Dunedin District Court heard last week.

Somerford said the hostage was fully co-operative but "if police take too long, they will get hurt".

The defendant said he would be waiting for police to attend Heriot Row and if they did not, they would "find out the hard way".

"I’m here to finish people for what they’ve done", the defendant said.

The Armed Offenders Squad were dispatched, only to find Somerford home alone.

"It wasn’t me, it was someone else in my flat", he told police.

The bombs were fictional but Judge Michael Turner was not impressed with the disruption caused to the lives of many people, after Heriot Row was closed for more than an hour.

Somerford was convicted of two charges of threatening to kill, the second arising from an incident on May 31 when he brandished an air rifle outside his home.

The defendant pulled the trigger twice at a man working on a neighbouring apartment only 2m away.

The air rifle was found to have a single pellet stuck in the end of the barrel.

Judge Turner said the defendant likely knew the weapon was loaded and the victim was saved from significant injury due only to luck.

The defendant had long-standing mental health issues and had taken himself off his medication at the time of the offending, the court heard.

Somerford’s mental health difficulties lowered his culpability, the judge said.

He was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment. , PIJF Court Reporter