Another dud judge: And this one thinks he’s funny

The Labour party’s catch and release policy seems to be going great guns. Apparently, these two winners just aren’t bad enough for jail!

Two Waitara brothers, Matthew and Regan Coxhead, appeared before Judge Chris Sygrove in the New Plymouth District Court back in May 2018 each facing a raft of charges relating to a 79 kilometre Police chase involving two stolen utes, intentionally ramming Police vehicles, endangering transport, assault on Police, drug cultivation and theft of at least ten other motor vehicles valued at more than $75,000.

During that hearing, the judge gave the brothers a sentencing indication that they would be looking at two years jail time. The brothers accepted this and did the right thing by pleading guilty. They were remanded off until 18 July this year for sentencing.

The chase started after the two men had been seen in the two utes which they had stolen. They had been responsible it seems for the large increase in stolen utes being reported recently in the Taranaki area. During the chase, each brother rammed patrol cars, deliberately swerved at Police trying to make them crash, while driving at relatively high speeds, dangerously, in an attempt to evade capture. The men were finally caught after the tires of their last operating ute were spiked. Believe me, that is one long chase and the chances of a member of the public being killed was extremely high.

Once caught, a scuffle ensued and Matthew, the older of the siblings, choked the officer by pushing his arm across the officer’s throat, while trying to take the his taser from him. Fortunately the officer was able to get to his pepper spray and gave poor Matthew a face full of pizza topping, thus enabling the arrest to be made.

The drugs charges related to 48 cannabis plants plus nearly 3 kg of processed dope being located at their Waitara address. There was also the remnants of at least 10 stolen vehicles, totalling at least $75,000 value.

Now of all these charges, the charge of Endangering Transport is probably the most serious. It has a maximum prison time of 14 years, that’s right up there with kidnapping, home invasion and attempted murder.

So I imagine the Brothers Grim would have been pretty happy to be told they were only going to get a measly two years, considering they would only actually serve a third of that thanks to Labour’s soft on crime philosophy.

But on 18 July this year, they appeared before Judge Sygrove once again to hear their fate. This was where things went from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Imagine their surprise when the brothers heard the judge had taken pity on their poor wee selves. Matthew was instead only sentenced to 12 months home detention, disqualified from driving for 15 months and ordered to pay $1000 reparation. He narrowly avoided jail due to him being Regan’s caregiver. Because Regan is an epileptic!

Just how much caregiving does a 29-year-old epileptic need? I have known a few people who suffer from epilepsy. They all seem to manage reasonably well by themselves. They certainly don’t need a caregiver to look after them on a daily basis. I’m guessing here but I think if you are fit enough to ferret around the countryside stealing cars at will, you don’t need much in the way of care.

Poor wee Regan got off even lighter. He was given 12 months intensive supervision, six months community detention, disqualified from driving for 15 months and ordered to pay $1000 reparation.

So let’s look at those penalties. 12 months home detention, great, at least Matthew can still get the grow operation back up and running. He will need the income from supplying the drug so he can pay his $1000 reparation. He can also still carry on with his work in the stolen car racket, he just has to get his mates to drop the cars off for him to chop. Nothing like being able to work from home! And 15 months disqualification? Well you can’t drive while you’re on Home D so really he only gets 3 months off the road. At least he will have to resit his licence to get it back but gee, I don’t know, I’m guessing he probably won’t bother.

And for Regan, 12 months intensive supervision. That is code for ‘Nothing at all’. At least he gets to do 6 months of PD so maybe we’ll get a new walking track out of him or something. What’s the bet he has an episode every PD morning though? Plus 15 months disqualification for him too. Funny though, epileptics aren’t actually allowed to drive until they are certified fit free for two years. If he was legally driving before, may I suggest that he probably didn’t need a caregiver in the first place?

But Judge Sygrove also seems to think he is a bit of a jester. At Wednesday’s sentencing hearing he wittily opined that the brothers’ actions reminded him of the American comedy series, The Dukes of Hazard.

It was these two maniacs driving around America in orange Dodge Chargers and seem to always be escaping the law and banging into people.

You could be called the dukes of Waitara county.

Well congratulations Judge Chris Sygrove, you win the award for Whaleoil Dud Judge of the Week. These are not just a couple of ‘Good ole boys’, and the officers were not bumbling Roscoe P Coltrane wannabes. They were doing a difficult job, dealing with violent scum who were intent on doing serious harm to them. They put themselves in harm’s way to protect the public from these dangerous criminals, the least you could do would be to back them up and lock the bad guys away for a while, and the public expects no less.

Here’s hoping the prosecution successfully appeal the sentences as being manifestly inadequate, just like Sygrove’s sense of humour.


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ExPFC, ex lots of things. Husband to a great woman. Father to great kids. Traveller, teller of tall tales, wannabe capitalist property magnate. I’m a passionate user of fossil fuels, a proud Kiwi, Ford over Holden, Indy over F1, V8’s over everything else.

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