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)
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
With a knife in his right hand, he approached the counter and
held the knife out towards the woman, demanding money and
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
Then, allowing a discount for Witchall's early guilty plea,
he made the end sentence three years and five months' jail.