13 Dec 2018

Community-based sentence for gun-toting teen

4:09 pm on 13 December 2018

A teen who carried the gun with which her companion shot a Wellington taxi driver has avoided a jail sentence.

18072016 Photo: Rebekah Parsons-King. Wellington High Court.

Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Paris Ohuka, who is now 18, was sentenced in the High Court in Wellington and ordered to serve six months' community detention, which imposes on her a daily curfew between 7pm and 7am.

She will also be subject to 12 months' intensive supervision and must complete any programmes ordered by her probation officer.

In November last year when Ohuka was 17, she and Dylan Nuku took a taxi to Miramar, with both of them donning sunglasses as they entered the cab.

They directed the driver to various addresses, eventually stopping in an industrial area on Stone Street, where Ohuka tried to pay the fare using a Prezzy card.

As Nuku left the taxi he took a short-barrelled pistol from Ohuka's handbag and when the driver, Alem Tesema said it was not possible to pay with the card, Nuku shot him in the shoulder.

Mr Tesema drove off at speed to seek help and underwent surgery to remove bullet fragments from his shoulder.

Justice Thomas said Mr Tesema's victim impact statement revealed he is still suffering as a result of the incident.

"He does not have the confidence to return to driving taxis and has been unable to find other work as a result of the injury. He has trouble sleeping and requires medication.

"He doesn't feel safe in Wellington anymore and feels the need to disguise himself as he leaves the house."

Former taxi driver Alem Tesema was shot by David Nuku a year ago. Nuku's sentancing will be held at the Wellington High Court tomorrow.

Former taxi driver Alem Tesema was shot by David Nuku a year ago. Nuku's sentancing will be held at the Wellington High Court tomorrow. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Justice Thomas said there were several aggravating features to Ohuka's offending, including the vulnerability of the victim, as he was alone in the taxi with her and Nuku.

She said while the defence lawyer, Kevin Preston, emphasised Ohuka played a secondary role in the offending, her involvement was not entirely innocent.

"He described Nuku as an older and hardened criminal and said what could you have done to stop him discharging the firearm.

"Obviously you could have refused to get into the taxi with him and refused to let him put the firearm into your handbag.

"You were offered a chance to explain by the police but made no attempt to - you didn't say Nuku forced you to participate."

The Crown Prosecutor, Grant Burston told the court the important thing was for Ohuka to be placed in an environment which would "take her away as far as possible from the road she may have been heading down, which may have seen her going to prison".

The defence lawyer, Kevin Preston revealed that in between the shooting and today his client had committed further offending, including driving away from a petrol station without paying.

He said that had been dealt with in the Hutt Valley District Court, where a fine of about $1000 had been imposed and reparation ordered.

Ohuka is now pregnant, with her child due in July and Justice Thomas said she was at a turning point in her life and expressed the hope she would take the opportunity to make some positive changes.

"You would be eligible for a programme for women looking at the causes of their offending and strategies for positive change.

"The [probation report] writer is concerned that despite your denials, alcohol contributed to your offending and recommends an assessment relating to alcohol use, but I understand at the moment you don't drink and being pregnant you shouldn't."

Justice Thomas gave Ohuka credit for several matters, including her youth - she was 17 at the time of the offending - her guilty plea and lack of prior offending, but would not give a discount for remorse.

"A transcript of your interview doesn't reflect well on you. At no point did you express concern about what happened or ask after the victim's health."

The judge will also monitor Ohuka through her sentence, seeing her every two months to discuss the progress she is making.

In October, Dylan Nuku was jailed for seven years for the shooting.

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