Teen gets three-year jail sentence for robbery at knifepoint

Last updated 13:00 09/10/2012

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A 17-year-old who robbed a Victory Square fish and chip shop with a 13-year-old associate at knifepoint was on home detention and had a history of aggravated robbery.

Wheke Kawana was sentenced yesterday in the Nelson District Court to three years and three months' jail.

Kawana earlier admitted taking part in the aggravated robbery of Giuseppes Fish and Chip shop at 7.30pm in August.

Judge Tony Zohrab said Kawana was serving a home detention sentence and was visited one afternoon by his 13-year-old associate and the pair discussed robbing a shop.

Judge Zohrab said there was some dispute over whose idea it was to rob the shop, but Kawana was the eldest and was more experienced in aggravated robbery and violence.

The boys were armed with large carving knives and had bandannas over their faces.

The shop owners and employee had finished work and were clearing up for the night.

Judge Zohrab said Kawana kicked in the shop's door, which was open and stood guard.

The 13-year-old went inside and brandished the knife, and the frightened owner opened the till.

The pair made off with $530 cash.

The shop owner, his wife, and an employee were "frightened out of their wits", Judge Zohrab said.

He said the younger offender was later found and spoken to by police, and despite wearing clothing that matched the description of an offender, denied he had anything to do with the robbery.

A knife was found near where the 13-year-old was spoken to.

Kawana was found seven days later.

He initially denied taking part in the robbery, but later admitted it.

He said he had bought alcohol with some of the cash, and had left the remaining cash, the clothing he was wearing during the robbery, and the home detention anklet that he broke off, on the Railway Reserve.

Judge Zohrab said the victims had written statements that said they were scared and still suffered from the robbery. One victim said they thought Kawana and his associate had guns and was scared about going back to work.

Judge Zohrab said Kawana had prior history of violence, including an aggravated assault on police.

He also had a history of aggravated robbery and burglary.

Kawana had committed the bulk of his offences in the Youth Court.

He had committed three strike offences since the new strike legislation had come into force and if he was 18 he would be headed to the High Court and looking at a 14-year sentence with no parole.

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"That's how serious the situation is, fortunately for you because of your age you don't have to contemplate a 14-year sentence."

Judge Zohrab said Kawana had a difficult background and a difficult upbringing with poor role models at an early stage.

Kawana had said that he wanted to move away from violent offending, but he had not done so.

Judge Zohrab ordered Kawana to pay reparation when he got out of jail, even though the prospect of him repaying it was poor.

- The Nelson Mail

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