Supermarket robber jailed for two years

One of the men involved in a closing-time robbery of a Palmerston North supermarket has been jailed for his part in the heist that saw one terrified woman throw herself to the ground in fear.

Allan Kete Kawhena, 27, of Palmerston North, admitted a charge of being a party to robbery and was yesterday jailed for two years.

However, he will be eligible for release soon as he had been in custody since his arrest shortly after the robbery.

The Palmerston North District Court heard that about 11.30pm on November 16, Kawhena, Roxanne Terehunga McGregor and Slade Jacob Moa parked around the corner from the Super Seven Supermarket on the corner of McGregor St and Milson Line.

Moa got out and confronted a female staff member and male security guard outside the supermarket and demanded money.

He appeared to be carrying a hand gun but it turned out he was brandishing an imitation firearm.

"The female staff member was very traumatised. She threw herself to the footpath before throwing Moa her handbag and putting her hands up in the air," Judge Gerard Lynch said.

"The security officer handed over his portable radio."

Moa ran back to the car where McGregor took the handbag. Kawhena did not receive anything.

Neither he nor McGregor knew Moa was carrying the imitation gun and earlier in the night Kawhena had tried to dissuade Moa from taking it.

Judge Lynch noted that the victims would not know that it was not real.

"You are conscious of the victims' trauma and apologise for the harm that you've caused," Judge Lynch told Kawhena. "This must have been, for particularly the [female] employee of the supermarket, the worst day of her working life.

"We simply can't imagine what it would have been like to have a [gun] pointed at you. We can't replicate her fear."

Kawhena was originally charged with aggravated robbery and was to have headed to trial next month on that charge.

He changed his plea when the charge was amended and he was given a sentence indication yesterday.

Judge Lynch shaved time off his sentence for the plea and because he had shown remorse.

Defence lawyer Peter Coles acknowledged his client's criminal record.

"He knows he's got to make some pretty big choices in his life," Mr Coles said.

McGregor yesterday admitted a charge of being a party to robbery, while Moa has already pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery. They will be sentenced next month.

Manawatu Standard