Liquor store owner has no case to answer

Not a licence for 'unwarranted retribution'

Last updated 18:21 25/03/2009

Case thrown out

RELIEF: Store owner Virender Singh outside Manukau District Court today after charges against him were dropped.

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South Auckland liquor store owner Virender Singh has no case to answer, a depositions hearing at Manukau District Court has found.

But the lawyer who helped Mr Singh get off violence charges today has warned others that the court decision doesn't give them licence to take unwarranted retribution against possible offenders.

South Auckland liquor store owner Virender Singh today had two charges of injuring with intent dropped after a three-day depositions hearing at Manukau District Court.

Police alleged he used excessive force against two youths after he had been stabbed following an altercation outside his Gilbert Road discount liquor store in Otara on September 30 last year.

They alleged he struck one while he lay on the ground with another man sitting on top of him, and struck another while he was trying to aid the man already injured.

But justices of the peace Mark Sinclair and Ray Cullen ruled a prima facie case had not been established due to the conflicting and contradictory evidence that was brought before the court.

It was the second major case which Singh's lawyer Greg King succeeded in getting thrown out at a depositions hearing before it got to trial, a rare event.

Two years ago JPs threw out a charge of unlawfully possessing a gun laid against Auckland gunshop worker Greg Carvell who shot a man who threatened to kill him with a metre-long machete in the gunshop in 2006.

''Really they're very similar types: just really good, decent Kiwis who found themselves in extraordinarily difficult and stressful situations and did what they had to do to get out of it,'' Mr King said.

Mr King told the JPs in court that he didn't think there was a clearer case of self-defence than the one presented before them.

However, he warned outside court that it should not be taken as a licence for shop owners to take unwarranted retribution in the course of their business.

''If anybody read that sort of precedent into this they would be making a big, big mistake. The first thing you do is phone the police if you can. The second thing you do is you run away if you can. The third thing you do, if you have to, is do whatever it takes to protect yourself and your family.

''Self-defence applies when a person takes reasonable steps to protect themselves or their family or their premises from a risk as they perceive it.''

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New Zealand Sikh Society spokesman Daljit Singh, who said Mr King agreed to act for free, also thanked many New Zealanders who supported Virender Singh.

''On behalf of the New Zealand Sikh Society we also would like to thank all New Zealanders who helped us a lot. We got actually many calls from different communities that they supported us.

''Yesterday when we were walking through here the truck drivers were tooting their horns and supporting us.

''We appreciate that Mr Singh got justice on the end.''

- NZPA

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