A man on a methamphetamine-fuelled rampage in which he took another man hostage and pointed a loaded gun at police has been sentenced to more than 11 years in prison.
Tai Tyson Poulson, 27, appeared for sentence in the Hamilton District Court on a raft of charges related to his offending in the Auckland area on March 21 and 22 this year, which included a home invasion and a lengthy police pursuit that stretched from Auckland's North Shore to the outskirts of Hamilton. The charges included two of aggravated burglary, two of failing to stop for police, possession of methamphetamine, two charges of threatening to kill or do grievous bodily harm, using a firearm against a law enforcement officer, kidnapping, unlawfully taking a motor vehicle, and dangerous driving.
The court heard that the offending began with a home invasion in the North Shore, when Poulson and two associates entered a home in Glenfield through an unlocked door, waking the couple who lived there.
READ MORE: Alleged meth-eater takes hostage at gunpoint on police chase
One of the group was armed with a rifle. This was pointed at the female occupant's head and the keys to a BMW car were demanded and taken. The robbers told the couple not to call the police, or else their home would be "riddled with bullets". The BMW is yet to be found.
Shortly after, police spotted a Holden ute being driven by Poulson in Takapuna. The ute then sped off at 150 kilometres an hour – the speed forced police to abandon the chase. The ute was spotted again in South Auckland and again the pursuit had to be abandoned because Poulson sped up. The stolen ute continued to drive south down the motorway, monitored by motorway cameras.
Large numbers of police were mobilised. Spikes were laid on the road at Bombay. The ute's tyres were spiked. Having been effectively disabled, the ute pulled into a cul-de-sac and Poulson smashed his way into another home, where the occupants, an older couple, were in bed asleep. The 64-year-old man was ordered at gunpoint into his own Ford Falcon, leaving his wife behind.
As this was happening the police arrived. Poulson trained the gun on them, and they were forced to back off. Poulson continued south towards Hamilton. More road spikes were laid on the road near where a truck had earlier rolled. The spikes punctured a tyre, but the man kept driving – with his victim still in the car.
The pursuit ended near the Fonterra Milk Plant at Te Rapa, Hamilton, where Poulson surrendered to police. He crashed the car and, still armed, took cover behind the vehicle before being called on to surrender by the armed offenders squad.
The rampage was not the only incident Poulson was sentenced on. A violent robbery of a home in Morrinsville in June last year, in which the occupants were punched in the face and threatened by a sledgehammer-wielding Poulson, was also included in Judge Denise Clarke's considerations. So too was another, similar incident at a house in Te Aroha in January, in which Poulson stole cannabis plants, and punched and threatened the occupants.
Crown prosecutor Jess Tarrant had sought a starting point for sentencing of 15 to 16 years in prison, with a minimum non-parole period of two-thirds of that time. Poulson's counsel Ann-Marie Beveridge, on the other hand, was seeking a 14-and-a-half-year starting point. Beveridge said she was concerned about the "crushing" effect of a lengthy sentence on the young man. Judge Clarke decided on a 15-year starting point. After factoring in reductions for guilty pleas and credit for remorse, she came to an end sentence of 11 years and two months in prison. Clarke also imposed a non-parole period of a third of that time – which is simply the standard period imposed for any jail sentence.
After his arrest, police said he told the officers that he had swallowed three grams of methamphetamine, so police took him to Middlemore Hospital for assessment. However, there was no mention of whether he had eaten the methamphetamine in the police summary of facts presented to the court.
In a victim impact statement, the 64-year-old hostage victim said the experience had a long-term unsettling impact on him. He said while he was in the car with Poulson he attempted to talk to his captor about his actions, his family and his behaviour. At the time, Detective Inspector Hayden Mander described the pursuit as a "dynamic and rapidly evolving incident", to which police responded "outstandingly".
8 August 2016
Photo: Chris McKeen
Dear Drugs-Forum readers: We are a small non-profit that runs one of the most read drug information & addiction help websites in the world. We serve over 4 million readers per month, and have costs like all popular websites: servers, hosting, licenses and software. To protect our independence we do not run ads. We take no government funds. We run on donations which average $25. If everyone reading this would donate $5 then this fund raiser would be done in an hour. If Drugs-Forum is useful to you, take one minute to keep it online another year by donating whatever you can today. Donations are currently not sufficient to pay our bills and keep the site up. Your help is most welcome. Thank you.