Man jailed for his part in robbery of widower

Ihaka Kawana. Photo: supplied
Ihaka Kawana. Photo: supplied
A man who provided the muscle in the honey-trap robbery of a grieving widower has been jailed for almost three years.

Ihaka Kawana (27) will serve every day of the two-year, nine-month sentence, the Dunedin District Court heard yesterday, since the offence constituted his second strike.

A criminal history involving weapons, violence, property offences and non-compliance with sentences was explained by the defendant’s background, Judge David Robinson said.

He had gone through regular upheaval and suffered extreme violence at the hands of those who should have cared for him.

Growing up in Huntly, Kawana used alcohol and cannabis during his intermediate-school years and developed a methamphetamine habit at the age of 15, counsel Brian Kilkelly said.

The gang life which resulted was the only thing that provided any comfort to the defendant.

It was a place where ‘‘I just feel wanted’’, Kawana said.

The Waikato man was living in Invercargill when he was contacted by Elana Jane Robins (27).

On September 11 last year, the court heard, she drove from Dunedin to pick him up before returning north.

Kawana claimed he was simply ‘‘along for the ride’’ when they turned up at the home of a Mosgiel widower. With them was a female friend of Robins who had previously entered a sexual relationship with the victim.

The trio barged their way inside the house and Robins demanded $6000 for efforts to set the man up with sexual partners.

When the victim repeatedly refused, Kawana told him to hand over his car keys instead.

The man’s continued inaction resulted in Kawana first pushing him backwards, then punching him once in the face.

While the assault progressed, Robins stole jewellery and other items belonging to the victim’s late wife.

They returned later and took the car keys, driving off in the vehicle, the court heard.

The victim said he felt ‘‘intimidated and emasculated’’ by the episode and the violence had exacerbated pre-existing head trauma.

Since the incident, he had had migraines and struggled with nightmares.

More positive, Judge Robinson said, were Kawana’s efforts since being behind bars; he had completed NCEA levels 1 and 2 and was working on level 3.

Mr Kilkelly said his client’s lack of achievement at school had been purely down to problems with his hearing and vision which had not been picked up.

Robins was sentenced last week to 12 months’ home detention.



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