Jail for man dared to rob dairy

A man whose original explanation for an aggravated robbery was he was bored later acknowledged he had been challenged by friends to commit the offence, Judge Stephen Coyle noted at sentencing in the Dunedin District Court yesterday.

''That says a lot about your maturity. You need to choose your friends more wisely,'' the judge said, imposing three years and five months' jail when Justin Philip Witchall (22) appeared.

Witchall had pleaded guilty to the aggravated robbery of the Shiel Hill Foodcentre, on April 14.

Witchall went to the store about 1.15pm and asked the sole staff member, a woman, for four packets of tobacco. Asked for identification, Witchall said he had none and left.

But he returned about 40 minutes later and entered the store with his sweatshirt hood pulled up over his head and his face covered.

With a knife in his right hand, he approached the counter and held the knife out towards the woman, demanding money and cigarettes.

Fearing for her safety, the woman retreated to the back of the store and closed the door.

Unsuccessful in trying to open the cash register, Witchall removed numerous packets of tobacco from the cigarette cabinet behind the counter and left.

Witchall and some packets of tobacco were both found at an address near to the shop.

Seven packets of tobacco were not recovered.

Judge Coyle told Witchall the woman he confronted with the knife owned the business with her husband. She was very scared at the time and was now very untrusting of young people, ''particularly young men''.

The woman's husband was now also ''very wary ... and concerned for his wife when she has to work alone in the shop'', the judge said.

While the robbery might well have been ''you responding to a dare'', it had a traumatic effect on the victim and also affected her husband, the judge told Witchall.

From a provisional starting point of four years' jail, the judge increased the term taking into account Witchall's past record, which included convictions for serious violence and possession of weapons; and the aggravated robbery being while he was on release conditions imposed in relation to dishonesty offending.

Then, allowing a discount for Witchall's early guilty plea, he made the end sentence three years and five months' jail.

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