Thief mows down The Warehouse staff member in Hamilton

Battered victim told court of scars and financial burden she faced after trying to stop thief at The Warehouse store she managed. Photo / Christine Cornege
Battered victim told court of scars and financial burden she faced after trying to stop thief at The Warehouse store she managed. Photo / Christine Cornege

A staff member from The Warehouse had to cling for her life to the bonnet of a speeding car driven by a fleeing shoplifter.

The assistant store manager held on to the bonnet of the car, trying not to get dragged underneath, as it rocketed out of the carpark at a Hamilton shopping centre in a bid to evade capture.

She was eventually thrown from the car with such force she was knocked unconscious.

The woman who mowed her down, Sabrina Maria Ngaurukehu Kaa, was on Wednesday sentenced in the Hamilton District Court to four-and-a-half years in jail on charges of aggravated wounding and theft, Fairfax reported.

Kaa, 39, was with her partner and two young children when she entered the store in the The Base shopping centre on January 31, last year.

She popped a pair of ballet shoes, jeans, a black top and woman's jacket into a bag slung over her shoulder as she moved through the store.

In the footwear section she tried on a pair of black boots, then strolled out of the store - making no attempt to pay for the items.

But the sensors on the electronic article surveillance system, alerted a security guard, who
approached Kaa, and asked to see inside her bag. Inside were the items she had taken, Fairfax reported.

The guard asked Kaa to return with him into the store, at which point she snatched the bag and walked out to her car.

The guard paged Warehouse staff for assistance. Meanwhile Kaa drove to the loading zone in front of The Warehouse, followed on foot by the guard.

The assistant manager approached Kaa and asked if she had receipts for the items in her bag.

Kaa replied: "Nah, f*** you. I don't have to show you nothing. F*** yous. I'm going. You can't stop me," Fairfax reported.

The manager gave Kaa a last chance to return the clothing, but said if she didn't the police would be called.

"F***ing call the cops then. I don't even care," Kaa said.

Her partner and children arrived on the scene.

"Hurry up, get in the car. We're f***ing going," Kaa told him. "Nah, push this bitch out of the way," Fairfax reported.

The partner and children got in, as the manager moved to the front of the car to try and stop Kaa leaving. Kaa then hit the accelerator.

The car struck the manager's leg and she stumbled backwards, before falling forwards onto the bonnet.

Kaa drove 2m, then came to an abrupt stop.

The manager tried to regain her balance, but Kaa drove forward, again hitting her target and accelerating.

The manager felt herself being pulled under the front bumper. She reached up grabbed a windscreen wiper to try and pull herself up.

Kaa kept accelerating. She headed onto Formation Drive in the middle of the carpark. The swerve threw the manager's lower body from the bonnet to the driver's side wheel arch.

The victim tried to grab the driver's window frame. But she didn't make it.

Flung from the speeding car, she landed face-first on the asphalt and was knocked out.

She remained unconscious for about 15 minutes. The right side of her face was badly grazed, including her eyebrow, cheekbone, chin and nose. Her right eye was bruised and blackened, and she suffered haemorrhaging in her eye. Her hands, elbows, a forearm, knee and ankle were also grazed.

When the police caught Kaa, she declined to comment, but said the victim jumped on her bonnet.

The victim read her victim impact statement with a quavering voice.

She spoke of her slow recovery, the financial stress of having to miss work and the cost of numerous medical expenses, and the distress of her young children of seeing their mother's facial injuries.

She had had nightmares and suffered flashbacks.

"When I look in the mirror my scar is the first thing I see. I hate the fact a complete stranger was able to impact my life in such a way," Fairfax reported.

Kaa's counsel Ann-Marie Beveridge said her client was ashamed of her actions - despite a pre-sentence report that noted she lacked remorse and had been manipulative and deceptive.

Kaa had grown up in poverty and thieving had become a habit from a young age, the lawyer said.

Crown prosecutor Catherine Ure said any remorse was negligible.

From a start point of five years, Judge Denise Clark made deductions for Kaa's guilty plea and her expressions of remorse, ending with a four year, six month jail term.

The maximum penalty for aggravated wounding is 14 years in prison.

- NZ Herald

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