A former Mongrel Mob member has been sent to jail for more than
two years for abducting a 14-year-old schoolgirl.
Craig Howard and Mount Maunganui teenager Julie Davis were on the run from police for 11 days in July last year. The pair were finally located naked in a Rotorua hot pool.
Howard must have known his walk into Tauranga District Court on Tuesday were his last steps of freedom for a while.
Judge Louis Bidois told him his relationship with Davis was unhealthy.
"At 42 years of age you built up a relationship with the young person which on any description was unhealthy," said Judge Bidois.
That relationship started when the pair met at Waikato's Waingaro Hot Springs.
Howard was a volunteer there, Davis was on a family day out.
"She said she was looking for support. She had nowhere to go to, no one to turn to," Howard says.
Howard says he noticed scars from razor blade cuts on the teenager's arms and legs.
The pair swapped phone numbers. In four months, Davis called Howard more than 960 times and Howard phoned her almost 700 times.
"The words that were used of Craig saying to Julie that he loved
her, calling her lovely babe, the whole undertone to it is
unhealthy," says Detective Pete Sweeney of Mt Maunganui
On July 4, Howard picked Davis up from Papamoa.
"I said I wanted to take her home. I want to take her to the police. I want to take her to the hospital for depression. She said by the time I come out of there she'll be dead," says Howard.
Howard's Subaru would provide their escape and their shelter on what would be an 11-day road trip.
Julie Davis' mother Rose Davis said it was a living hell - a nightmare.
"I just can't believe anyone who has got children could do that," she says.
But Julie Davis seemingly enjoying her brief notoriety on the run, even ringing radio talkback. She told radio host Michael Laws she had a friendship "but nothing serious" and nothing sexual had occurred between her and Howard.
The police finally located the pair naked in a Rotorua hot pool.
ONE News has spoken to Julie Davis and she clearly feels
responsible for the fact Howard now faces time behind bars. She
says he was only trying to help her.
But Sweeney says Howard was not the person to help her.
"If this was a young person with problems then they needed proper help, not help from an ex-Mongrel Mob member with a long criminal history, " says Sweeney.
Now 16, Julie Davis has never returned to school and no longer lives with her mother.
"I really think it has completely ruined a lot of potential she had," said Rose Davis.
Howard has 27 months in prison to reflect on that.