From NZ Herald story October 27th 1993
Jail sentences totaling 53 years were handed down yesterday to a gang of five men involved in raids on six banks and two service stations in Auckland last year. One of the men was given the maximum sentence of 14 years for armed robbery and another had eight years added to an earlier 12 year term - making a cumulative sentence of 20 years behind bars. Passing sentence in the High Court at Auckland. Justice Robertson denounced the men's cowardly conduct and the reign of terror they imposed. Greatest weight had to be given to citizens caught up in such offending, he said. The effect could be seen in the eyes of innocent women and men who were required to come to court to relieve the horror of being the "wrong person in the wrong place at the wrong time."
The judge referred to a Court of Appeal which sent a bench mark for robberies of this kind and commented that this case was "more serious again." The number of robberies was greater, the degree of planning and sophistication was as great and although there was no injury and no hostage taking, all the other reprehensible factor were undoubtedly present. The judge commented on the brazenness of two of the principal offenders, Azan Ali and Ravendra Prasad, who carried out robberies while on the run from prison. Ali who was found guilty of seven armed robberies as well as firearms offences, had eight years added to a 12 year sentence he is already serving for offences including rape, threatening to kill, aggravated burglary and escaping from jail. The judge told Ali, a 23-year-old builder's labourer, that he realized that meant a total of 20 years, but that was the minimum the court could impose.
Prasad, aged 32, a stonemason of Bucklands Beach - who broke both legs in the escape from Mt Eden Prison in May last year - was jailed for a total of 16 years after being convicted of seven armed robberies, escaping from custody and unlawful possession of a firearm. Teina Ramea, a 25-year-old tattooist of Mangere, who was found guilty of three robberies and who admitted a fourth, was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment. Sam Nelson, aged 23, of Mangere, who admitted five charges of aggravated robbery - three banks and two service stations - was jailed for 10 years. Suresh Lal, aged 23, a spray painter of Avondale, who admitted being involved in the two service station raids, was jailed for six years plus a further year for theft and fraud offences. Justice Robertson said society had made it clear that people who totally ignored the rights of others in this way forfeited the right to remain in the community.
He said there appeared to be no particular advantage in trying to work out what precise roles the robbers played. The network and web had been spun dependent on doing his task his own way. Mr Kieran Raftery, for the Crown said that $100,000 of the proceeds of the raids was still unaccounted for. He referred to a series of five Bank of New Zealand robberies in Auckland in 1991 which was described by the Chief Justice as being in a category not previously seen in New Zealand. Those robberies were exceeded by the present case, Mr Raftery said. Mr Christopher Harder said that his client, Prasad, continued to protest his innocence. Mr Guyon Foley, for Ramea, told the judge his client had got involved "to pay some bills." Nelson's lawyer, Mr Nigel Faigen, called for a sentence which did not "foreclose all hope." Mr Jonathan Wiles said that his client, Lal, had been described by the probation service as naive and easily influenced by people with more guile.
Date of Birth
Numerous armed robberies in Auckland in between June and October 1992
Other convictions for rape, unlawful sexual connection, threatening to kill, aggravated burglary, firearms offences and escaping from jail
At large in Fiji
Sentenced to 8 years in October 1993 with a 12 year cumulative term in December 1992
The 8 year term reduced to 6 years upon appeal in June 1994
Released and deported August 2002
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OFFENCES / CONVICTIONS
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