Auckland High Court allows appeal and reduces sentence for robbery and burglary

    The Auckland High Court has allowed an appeal against a sentence for robbery and burglary.

    Lopeti Telefoni  entered three suburban liquor stores and stole cigarettes and alcohol.

    He pleaded guilty to all charges and appeared before Judge B A Gibson on February 11, 2020 in the Auckland District Court for sentencing.  He was sentenced to four years and six months’ imprisonment.

    He appealed the sentence on the grounds that it was manifestly excessive and argued for a  sentence of less than two years, thus permitting home detention.

    He is presently serving his sentence as a high security prisoner because he was recently charged as a party to the murder of a fellow inmate.

    Telefoni’s parents moved to New Zealand from Tonga in the hope of securing a better life for themselves and their children. He was born in Hawke’s Bay in 1999.

    A court report described Telefoni’s background and childhood as one of deprivation, isolation and struggle punctuated by growing dishonesty and violence. There was a clear connection between his childhood and his offending.

    Telefoni had accumulated 44 convictions between 2006 and 2019.  He had 18 Youth Court notifications which include trespass, shoplifting, assault, aggravated assault and aggravated robbery.

    The pre-sentence report recorded that Telefoni showed little insight into his offending and was assessed as presenting as a high risk of harm.

    Telefoni’s counsel argued that the factors considered when calculating his original sentence was too high and that insufficient credit was given to his personal mitigating factors, including his youth, background, his guilty pleas and time on remand.

    After considering a number of arguments and legal precedents, Judge Moore, presiding, allowed the appeal.

    The sentence of four years and six months’ imprisonment was quashed and a new sentence of three years and two months’ imprisonment substituted.

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