New Zealand Police v Uerata [2019] NZDC 11185

Published 20 July 2021

Sentencing —arson — residential arson — unlawful interference with a motor vehicle — burglary — no guiding tariff — R v Marson-Wood [2018] NZHC 610 — R v Protos CA259/04, 19 October 2004 — Hessell v R [2010] NZSC 135, [2011] 1 NZLR 607. The defendant appeared for sentence having pleaded guilty to charges of arson, burglary, a lesser form of arson and four charges of unlawful interference with a motor vehicle. The defendant, on a single evening, committed a series of offences. The offending began after midnight, when the defendant was cycling through the centre of town and attempted to break into several vehicles. Following that, the defendant set fire to a large plastic skip causing burn marks up a concrete wall and entered a residential address and set fire to a rubbish bag that was located directly below a gas water heater. The home was also wooden but the fire was extinguished when an occupant arrived home and found the defendant attempting to leave. The Judge, having considered prior case law, adopted a starting point for the arson of three years' imprisonment; applying a 10 per cent reduction for the defendant's relative youth (24 years old) and lack of prior history. A further 25 per cent discount was applied for the defendant's early guilty plea, bringing the sentence to 24 months (within the window for considering home detention). The Judge determined that given the defendant's issues with alcohol and drugs, his age and lack of prior history, home detention was the most suitable outcome. The defendant was sentenced to 10 months' home detention, with a requirement that he complete an alcohol and drug assessment (and treatment programme if recommended), not possess alcohol or drugs, complete 100 hours of community work and pay $400 in reparations. Judgment Date: 24 April 2019.