Teen involved in armed robbery of Pahiatua BP gets home detention
A teenager who provided all the tools needed to rob a petrol station has avoided jail – something the sentencing judge admits is out of the ordinary.
Judge Stephanie Edwards noted on Thursday many young men had been through the Palmerston North District Court for aggravated robbery recently, with those pleading guilty getting jail terms.
But she sentenced Floyd Robert Teoriwa Junior Taylor, 18, to 11 months' home detention and 180 hours' community work for the April 21 armed robbery of Pahiatua BP.
Taylor and a youth were sitting in a car near the service station for a while, before he went in and asked for directions – a ruse he used to get a feel for the store.
He returned to the car, parked on a neighbouring property, and the pair watched traffic come and go from the station before the youth entered the store.
The youth was armed with a knife Taylor gave them and wore a black piece of cloth that covered their face up to their nose.
The two store attendants saw the knife and ran for the store cupboard, which they locked, before calling police and the owner.
Meanwhile, the youth stole $800 cash and cigarettes.
A customer entered the store while the youth was behind the counter.
The youth turned, saw the customer, and ran for it. The youth jumped into Taylor's car before the pair took off.
Taylor told police he was a gang prospect and the youth volunteered to commit the robbery when he could get no-one else to do it.
Straight away, the judge told Taylor and his family present in court he would be getting home detention.
"That's not the normal sentence for this type of very serious offending.
"In the past week or two, I and my fellow judges here have sentenced a number of young men of your age to prison for this type of aggravated robbery."
But reports provided by a social worker, a psychologist and a Corrections officer played a part in the judge veering from the norm.
Taylor had been raised in an environment of violence and substance abuse, which saw him using alcohol and cannabis from the age of 10.
He suffered from a mild intellectual impairment and mental health problems, including psychosis, and had a history of depression, the judge said.
"You appear to me to be a young man who has struggled to cope with the difficulties you have had, and that's what has made you susceptible to influence from gang culture."
Taylor was young enough to make something better for himself, but needed to put the effort in, the judge said.