A man who smashed his way into an Oamaru supermarket,
terrifying the night staff with a loaded air rifle because he
was desperate for alcohol, has been jailed for three years.
Terence Eric Webb, 63, a recovering alcoholic, was in
considerable pain and having major difficulties with his pain
medication when he "fell by the wayside", Judge Kevin
Phillips said at sentencing in the Dunedin District Court
Webb had a sawn-off air rifle, a hammer and a fishing knife
with him when he went to the Wansbeck St supermarket about
3.45am on January 22.
He used the hammer to smash his way in and confronted two
staff with the loaded gun, which he had cut down the previous
night while drinking at home. When a third staff member
arrived, Webb continued pointing the weapon at the three
victims to keep them together near the beer fridge while he
drank some beer. He was in an agitated and drunken state and
all three victims were "scared witless", believing they were
going to be shot, the judge said.
The staff members discussed Webb's problems with him for
about 40 minutes, trying to keep him calm. A fourth staff
member arrived and was able to alert police, who eventually
arrested the defendant after a 90 minute negotiation.
Crown counsel Richard Smith said the prison term for Webb
should start at about four years. Although it had not been a
case where the defendant was disguised, he had detained the
victims for some time and subjected them to quite a degree of
fear, given he had a firearm. And there was then a "stand
off" with the police.
Defence counsel Campbell Savage said the defendant was
"racked with remorse" and was "at a loss" to explain why he
had armed himself. Apart from the hammer which he used to get
himself into the supermarket, Webb just wanted people to stay
away. He just wanted to get in to drink some beer.
He was self-medicating and at his wits end.
"He just wanted the pain to go away," Mr Savage said.
The summary of facts said Webb cut the barrel off the air
rifle while drinking at home earlier in the night, then shot
himself twice in the head in an attempt to kill himself.
Judge Phillips said that, as a result of Webb's actions, the
three staff members no longer felt safe and were nervous and
apprehensive about going to work. The nature of the detention
was such that one victim believed he would be killed if he
tried to escape.
Webb was assessed at medium risk of re-offending and the
probation officer who wrote the pre-sentence report felt he
did not appear to appreciate the problems he had caused the
There was no argument the staff had been detained, the judge
said. Webb had taken the gun with him so nobody could stop
him doing what he was going to do. And he was pointing the
gun at the victims and waving it around while in an
intoxicated, edgy and agitated state.
The victims were intimidated by the gun and the knife and
were all "entirely vulnerable".
Webb, who earlier admitted charges of aggravated burglary,
presenting a firearm, carrying an offensive weapon (a knife)
and using a firearm to resist arrest was given concurrent
prison sentences of three years (aggravated burglary), six
months (using a firearm to resist arrest and carrying an
offensive weapon) and two months (three charges of presenting
Judge Phillips also gave him a warning under the "three
strikes" legislation and ordered destruction of the air
rifle, the knife and the hammer.