Teller feared for life

IAN STEWARD
Last updated 13:39 10/07/2014

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A bank teller has described having a double barrelled shotgun pointed at her head for trying to dissuade an elderly customer from entering her branch during a bank robbery.

Sharon Smith, 49, broke down in tears in the High Court at Auckland today as she recounted the 2012 robbery of the Pukekohe ANZ by "gutless idiots" Tahere Hutchins, Bobby Maxwell and Phillip Taha.

The trio entered the bank on the morning of October 1, 2012, Hutchins armed with a knife and Taha with a shotgun.

Taha pointed the gun at staff and made the only customer in the store kneel.

Justice Sarah Katz said security footage of the robbery made for "chilling viewing".

When Smith tried to dissuade an elderly customer from entering the store during the ordeal, Taha rounded on her, pointed the gun at her head causing her to fall to her knees. 

"When the gunman came at me with the gun pointed directly at me I feared for my life," Smith told the court.

"‚ÄčNo-one should ever have to feel this way. To know that they are in jail and unable to hurt anyone else is the best outcome."

"I hope they rot in jail."

The trio, who made off with $8908, were later apprehended and were today sentenced to seven years in jail for Taha, six years, five months for Hutchins and six years nine months for Maxwell.

At the time of the robbery Taha was on parole for an earlier aggravated robbery of a Liquorland.

Hutchins was also sentenced for the gun-point robbery of the Pukekohe Veterinary Centre six days before the bank robbery.

On that occasion he entered the vet and enquired how much it would cost to have a dog put down.

He left but returned five minutes later with a gun and a blue bandanna over his face.

He robbed the terrified receptionist of $500.

‚ÄčTaha's cousin Harley Taha, who was in the car outside during both robberies, was sentenced to seven years, six months.

Bobby Maxwell was in a wheelchair and sat beside the door to the cells throughout the hearing.

As the others were lead out of the court, Harley Taha punched Maxwell in the face.

Justice Katz said she did not see the assault but noted it at the request of Maxwell's lawyer.

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