Armed robber ate junk food as victims counted loot

An armed robber kidnapped two Tokoroa dairy owners, made them drive him to McDonald's then ate takeaways while the petrified couple counted his loot.

The dairy owners feared for their safety during the terrifying 40-minute gunpoint robbery, a court has heard.

Willem Patrick Winikerei, 25, was sentenced in the Rotorua District Court yesterday to five years' jail and ordered to pay reparation of $1509 after earlier pleading guilty to one count of aggravated robbery and two counts of kidnapping. The charges relate to an incident on October 13 at the Amber Dairy on Bridge St.

In sentencing, Judge Chris McGuire said the facts of the case were both "bad'' and "bizarre''.

He said a balaclava-clad Winikerei waited outside as the owners - a husband and wife - were locking up about 10pm.

Winikerei made the waiting female victim get out of her vehicle then forced the couple back into the dairy, using an imitation handgun. He demanded cash and was handed $600 and 10 cartons of cigarettes.

He then forced the couple back into their car and made them drive him to the Tokoroa McDonald's, where he spent $40 on food from the drive through. He then made them drive to an isolated industrial area where he sat eating, while the couple counted the money for him.

Winikerei then demanded the couple's wallets. The woman did not have her wallet, but he took $80 from the man and then forced them to drive him to an ATM where he used the man's card to withdraw a further $200. He then demanded they return to the dairy where he stole another $500 from the safe and a security system.

Finally, he drove to the Mobil station on State Highway 1 and left the car, telling the couple not to look back at him or he would kill them.

Judge McGuire said the ordeal lasted about 40 minutes and had a severe impact on the dairy owners.

He read out the 50-year-old woman's victim impact statement where she wrote: "The harm done to me is emotional ... I am nervous when we leave at night and dislike going out in the dark.''

Her husband's statement said he had feared for their safety during the ordeal, especially when Winikerei took them to an isolated spot. His statement said he woke up thinking about it in the middle of the night and the incident had changed his life completely.

Winikerei's lawyer, Katherine Ewen, told the court her client had been drunk and hungry at the time, having not eaten in about three days.
Judge McGuire replied he viewed that with scepticism, given Winikerei had been able to get enough alcohol to get drunk.

Mrs Ewen said Winikerei was remorseful and had written to the victims, the judge and his own family apologising for his crimes. His mother had also written to the judge, outlining her son's background and his past sporting, cultural and educational achievements.

Mrs Ewen said her client bought a car for $800 with the money he stole, which would be sold to help pay reparation.

Judge McGuire told Winikerei if he was hungry all he had to do was go to his mother. He said some of Winikerei's actions, particularly eating

McDonald's while making his victims count the money, were not only those of a drunk man but one whose sanity "must be called into question''.

He said Winikerei, who had a number of previous convictions for drugs, burglary and dishonesty offences, had substantial talent in many areas of his life but had gone down the wrong road.

"And I think you now realise that is the road to nowhere, the road to jail.''

By Katie Holland of The Daily Post

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