Arrests over armed bar robberies
Chch couple in custody after investigationBLAIR ENSOR & DAVID CLARKSON
Police executing a search warrant in Christchurch during the investigation into two armed robberies of bars on Sunday night have found a firearm.
The Brewery at The Tannery precinct in Woolston was robbed at gunpoint at 11pm on Sunday; about an hour after a pair of armed men stole cash from the Coasters Tavern in Redwood.
Homes in Worcester St and Kilmore St were last night raided as police investigated the robberies.
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, which police had searched.
Jackson Whakatihi, 24, also known as Jackson Manson, and Nikita Chela McCausland, 25, appeared in the Christchurch District Court today on several charges related to the armed robberies.
Whakatihi, who was charged with armed robbery and an assault on Sunday night, has been remanded in custody during a brief appearance at court.
Whakatihi is listed as having no fixed abode in central Christchurch.
ALLEGED 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.
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?"
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''.
''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.
MUM OF 5-MONTH-OLD BABY CHARGED
Later in the day, Nikita Chela McCausland of central Christchurch, who is Whakatihi's partner and the mother of a five-month old baby, appeared in court jointly charged with unlawful possession of the sawn-off shotgun.
She was charged with possession of the weapon and with receiving $3500 cash from Whakatihi knowing that the money had been stolen.
She was also charged with driving on Worcester Street while her licence was suspended.
McCausland entered no plea and was tearful when bail was refused by Judge Garland and she was remanded in custody to February 17.
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.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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