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Serial offender jailed for 11 years for shooting at fleeing cop

Author
Sam Hurley, NZ Herald,
Section
National,
Publish Date
Friday, 9 March 2018, 1:57PM
Joshua Mason Kite was sentenced today after shooting at police and going on the run in 2016. (Photo / John Stone)
Joshua Mason Kite was sentenced today after shooting at police and going on the run in 2016. (Photo / John Stone)

A serial offender who shot at fleeing police officers during a Whangarei street skirmish and then stole two vehicles - including an officer's car - has been jailed for more than a decade.

Joshua Mason Kite appeared for sentencing today in the High Court at Auckland before Justice Anne Hinton, who imprisoned him for a total of 11 years and six months.

In December, Kite pleaded guilty in the Whangarei District Court to using a firearm against police during an incident on August 26, 2016.

He also admitted one charge of unlawfully carrying a firearm, one charge of possession of methamphetamine for supply, two charges of failing to stop for police, one charge of driving dangerously, one charge of impersonating a police officer and two counts of stealing a motor vehicle.

Kite had faced two counts of kidnapping but those charges were withdrawn.

Addressing the court, a solemn and softly spoken Kite apologised to the New Zealand Police, the public, his innocent victims and his three children who have waited years for him to come home.

"I did not want to hurt them," he said of shooting at police.

"I was scared after the car crash and just wanted to exit the situation."

Kite "wished and prayed" to be shown mercy.

Joshua Mason Kite. Photo / NZ Police

Joshua Mason Kite. Photo / NZ Police

But Crown prosecutor Henry Steele said Kite's offending was "extremely serious" and was motivated initially by greed to fuel his drug offending and then a desire to avoid responsibility.

"He not only put at risk the safety of New Zealand Police but also the New Zealand public," Steele said.

"The reality is this man was driving in possession of a loaded rifle, while on the run."

He said the only logically explanation for Kite being armed was to use the weapon to avoid apprehension.

"Which is exactly what he did," the prosecutor said.

He added that Kite's crimes came while on parole for "very serious violent offending", which saw Kite spend more than 11 years behind bars for offences including aggravated robbery and fraud in 2006.

Kite's trail of mayhem in 2016 began at 12.43am when police attempted to stop him while driving along Bank St in central Whangarei.

He fled and after a short pursuit crashed on Kamo Rd, outside Newberry's Funeral Home.

When police, without their weapons drawn, approached the wrecked car, Kite emerged with his hands under a blanket.

He then revealed a hidden rifle and told the officers to back-off.

As police retreated and sought cover, Kite took aim and fired twice at one of the officers.

Luckily he missed.

Kite then stole an unmarked police vehicle from the scene and drove south before he stopped two people near Raumanga Valley Rd and stole their car.

He ditched that car in Maungaturoto and was later sighted in Kaiwaka.

Armed police hunted Kite throughout Northland after the shooting. Photo / Doug Sherring

Armed police hunted Kite throughout Northland after the shooting. Photo / Doug Sherring

 

With now heavily armed police searching for the fugitive, Maungaturoto went into lockdown before the vehicle was found abandoned on Bickerstaffe Rd.

During his escape Kite was able to slip through a police checkpoint while in the back of a car and made his way to Mangawhai.

Two days later, police raided a house north of Kaiwaka but did not find Kite.

Finally, he was arrested on September 1, 2016 when police searched a home in the South Auckland suburb of Manurewa.

Kite was tasered and shot with a sponge round by police, who found meth and $40,900 in cash at the property.

The court heard today that a strong argument was made against the legality of the police's search warrant, which resulted in Kite's drug charge.

Kite's counsel Annabel Cresswell said her client never denied the Whangarei offending and had been "polite, cooperative and friendly" with police after his arrest.

Kite also told police where they could find the rifle, Cresswell said, adding Kite was simply making "desperate attempts to avoid prison at all costs".

Justice Hinton quipped: "Knowing full well that was never going to work."

"I mean honestly it was so stupid wasn't it? He had that chance and he just blew it," the judge said.

Cresswell further sought a reduction in Kite's sentence because of several delays during the court proceedings, which she blamed on the Crown's prosecuting office in Whangarei.

Kite also spent months waiting for a sentencing indication hearing but the court declined to give him one at the request of the Crown Solicitor.

Cresswell said this "caused a huge amount of stress and confusion" for her client and his family.

Cresswell also raised Justice Minister Andrew Little and the Government's policy to reduce the length of sentences for prisoners and overall prison population.

"What Mr Kite needs is more assistance," she said.

Justice Hinton said she erred on the side of generosity when granting Kite a 20 per cent reduction for his Auckland drug offending and sentenced him to four years' imprisonment.

However, the judge was not as generous towards Kite for the Whangarei incident and jailed him for a further seven years and six months.

Kite must serve a minimum period of imprisonment of three years and nine months.