Atua Edwards, consciously anticipating his imminent arrest for numerous burglaries, made an impromptu run from his present location, hurling himself into the path of a woman operating her Hyundai station wagon along Mutu St in Te Awamutu.
Commanding her to abandon the vehicle in no uncertain terms, Edwards sprinted towards the moving car. The woman’s attempts to secure her window proved futile against the swift intruder. Edwards successfully reached inside, clutching her left shoulder, endeavoring to pull her from the moving vehicle as she continued to drive. His demands for her to exit the vehicle intensified while she frantically tried to increase her speed.
Her fearful journey lasting 20 meters, she finally stopped her car, snatched her handbag and darted away. This episode, which unfolded on the 17th of February earlier this year, was the climax to a series of burglaries and vehicle thefts orchestrated by Edwards in the preceding months.
Edwards’s criminal spree included breaking into the Backyard Bar in Whatawhata in the wee hours of December 16 of the previous year, a reckless endeavor that inevitably led him to harm himself on the shards of the window he had shattered to gain entry. His efforts to pry open the ATM, gaming safe, and wholesale area refrigerator proved to be ineffectual. His departure from the scene was marked only by a pilfered floor rug.
Ten days later, he rammed his personal vehicle into Hauturu Primary School near Kawhia where he heisted a security camera located approximately 2 meters from the ground. The camera, in its final moments of operation, captured the intruder’s image.
Edwards later trespassed a property in Pukeatua between 1 pm and 3 pm on January 16. He looted the resident’s vehicle with a miscellany of items – electronics, a drone, a lawnmower, and a child’s ride-on electronic toy vehicle – before making his escape.
His string of crimes included the unauthorized use of a stolen Eftpos card. He used the card in two separate transactions at McDonald’s in Te Awamutu, spending over $75 within several minutes.
Edwards’s audacious exploits continued with the theft of a Ford Ranger from Drive Auto Sales in Tauranga on January 31. He subsequently drove the stolen vehicle to a property in Whatawhata where he twice burgled within a span of a half-hour. His ill-obtained haul included numerous items such as a compressor, tools, computers, a television, binoculars, among other things.
This week, Edwards appeared in the Hamilton District Court awaiting sentencing for his litany of burglary and theft charges. Lawyer Wayne Dollimore, defending Edwards, admitted to Judge Brett Crowley that his client’s transgressions were fueled by a resurgence of a meth addiction. Although seen as a stimulus of his crimes, Dollimore highlighted his client’s struggle with addiction was not a defense. The lawyer challenged a pre-sentence report’s claim of Edwards lacking remorse.
Refusing to accept the accusations, Edwards exhibited interest in restorative justice and expressed remorse over his actions. Acknowledging his extensive past criminal behavior, he expressed his intentions to reform, to renounce his drug addiction and to sever his gang alliances.
Edward’s mother, along with other family members, lent her support throughout the court hearing. Despite her son’s misdeeds, she affirmed her unwavering support and underlined his need to refocus his attention towards his children and grandchildren.
The mother submitted a letter, structured as a Section 27 cultural report, discussing her son’s life tribulations. Judge Crowley, while acknowledging the heartfelt pleas, focused on a particular phrase penned by the mother “I have told him he needs to pull his head”. Crowley echoed the sentiment, confirming it as the most astute advice.
Edwards was subsequently sentenced to two years and four months. Crowley refrained from levying additional monetary reparations to prevent the burden of financial debt hovering over Edwards upon his release from incarceration.