Fake cop avoids jail over massage parlour thefts

A young man who posed as a police officer at a massage parlour while his friend helped himself to the contents of people's handbags has escaped a prison sentence.

Labour Arepa Tauariki will serve seven months on home detention after being sentenced at the Auckland District Court for impersonating a police officer and theft charges.

The court heard the offences occurred when Tauariki and a friend went to a massage parlour in Mt Albert, Auckland.

Tauariki's friend flashed a badge at one of the workers and Tauariki took down another woman's details while the friend went through handbags.

The 20-year-old has been the subject of two probation reports, the first of which recommended a prison sentence.

That report was slammed as "contemptuous"and "sarcastic"by Tauariki's lawyer Robin Brown at an earlier hearing.

Mr Brown said Tauariki's mother Mary was planning to complain to the probation services about the author of the report, who she described as "racist".

"That was her take on the attitude of the writer towards her and her son - that there was overtones of racism in her remarks - it left the impression of him being racist."

He said he had been practising law for 28 years, and it was the first time he had ever asked for a probation report to be re-written.

Tauariki's sentencing was adjourned so a second report could be written which was described by Mr Brown as "fair".

That report recommended home detention which will allow Tauariki to get a job.

In sentencing, Judge Tony Fitzgerald noted that Tauariki had previous convictions for burglary and a number for breaching community work.

He also said the second probation officer found Tauariki's remorse to be "questionable".

Judge FItzgerald rejected Mr Brown's view that a sentence of community detention was suitable and said home detention would allow Tauariki to work with the permission of his probation officer.

Tauariki's co-accused Jeffrey Teina, a 30-year-old builder, will be sentenced in March.

- Edward Gay, APNZ court reporter

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