Arrests over armed bar robberies

Man and woman held over robberies at two bars

BLAIR ENSOR & DAVID CLARKSON
Last updated 13:57 28/01/2014
Christchurch AOS
Dean Kozanic

SEARCH WARRANT: AOS members at the rear of units on Worcester Street.

Police at Kilmore St address
Kirk Hargreaves Zoom
INVESTIGATION: Police search an address in Kilmore Street on Tuesday.

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Police executing a search warrant in Christchurch during the investigation into two armed robberies of bars on Sunday night have found a firearm.

Police raided homes in Worcester St and Kilmore St last night searching for those responsible.

TWO PEOPLE ARRESTED

Two people wanted in connection with the robberies were arrested after a vehicle was stopped not far from the Kilmore St property, police said.

A 25-year-old woman now faces a charge of receiving $3500 cash from the man charged with the robberies.

She was alleged to have care of the weapon, police prosecutor Sergeant Chris Scott told the Christchurch District Court today.

The woman's appearance in court has been delayed to this afternoon for police to continue inquiries and possibly lay further charges.

The man charged with an armed robbery and an assault on Sunday night has been remanded in custody during a brief appearance at court.

Jackson Whakatihi's arrest arose from the police investigation into the shotgun robberies of The Brewery at The Tannery precinct in Woolston, which took place about 11pm, just over an hour after a pair of armed men stole cash from the Coasters Tavern in Redwood.

Whakatihi, 24, is listed as having no fixed abode in central Christchurch.

ASSAULT WITH SHOTGUN

He is charged that along with "an unknown person", and being armed with a shotgun, he robbed a man of about $15,000 cash.

He is also charged, again with "an unknown person", of assaulting a man with a shotgun with the intent to rob a woman.

The Press understands the alleged victim - a friend of a staff member - was hit in the head with the butt of a shotgun when he refused to lie on the ground during the robbery at The Brewery. He received treatment at Christchurch Hospital and was discharged on Monday.

ROBBERS FLED EMPTY-HANDED

The Brewery's owner, Alasdair Cassels, said the offenders were unable to gain access to the business' safe and fled the scene empty-handed.

''I think our staff behaved very well and probably fairly heroic in the situation,'' Cassels said.

''Being confronted by a sawn-off shot gun is not very good is it?"

LINK TO ROBBERIES LAST MONTH?

Police are continuing inquiries into similar incidents at The Brewers Arms at Merivale and The Craic in Riccarton, just before Christmas, when masked offenders with guns entered the bars and demanded money from staff.

Detective Inspector Virginia Le Bas said there could be other offenders connected to the string of robberies, and appealed for information from the public.

''One of the features of these offences is that the offenders have had access to significant amounts of cash, and are likely to have been spending it.

''That sort of behaviour is very noticeable - and we are asking people to be on the lookout for individuals who seem to have suddenly come into possession of large sums of cash.''

BAR OWNERS URGED TO BE CAUTIOUS

Le Bas said the fact that someone was injured in one of the robberies had "heightened the seriousness of these incidents''.

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''We are providing support to the victims and the affected premises. These types of events can be extremely traumatising for those caught up in them.

''Fortunately in these cases the staff and patrons have done the right thing by complying with the offenders' demands.''

She urged bars and other licensed premises to take extra care with security around closing time, remove money from the premises regularly, and ensure they have offsite storage for CCTV footage.

Whakatihi, who is also charged with possession of cannabis, receiving a stolen wallet and a Samoan passport, has entered no pleas to any of the charges.

Duty lawyer Grant Tyrrell today asked for the remand and said Whakatihi was not making an application for bail.

Judge Alistair Garland remanded Whakatihi in custody to February 13 for an appearance by video-link from the prison, for a legal aid application and for an application to be prepared for his release on bail.

POLICE APPEAL FOR INFORMATION

Anyone with information about the robberies is asked to contact Christchurch police on (03) 3637400 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

- The Press

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