Man threatened supermarket staff and police

A supermarket customer brandished a knife and threatened staff in an incident similar to a Dunedin stabbing spree nine months later, a court has heard.

Gene-Kelly Antonio Wharekawa (27) was not the man responsible for the attack at Countdown Dunedin Central last month, which left four people in hospital, Judge Jim Large stressed at the Dunedin District Court yesterday.

"That person’s actions do not play any part in my sentencing today. You’re being sentenced for what you did," the judge said.

Wharekawa was at Countdown Mosgiel on August 31 last year with an associate.

When they went to a checkout to buy alcohol, the friend showed her identification to prove her age but the defendant refused.

He began walking away but then turned around, yelling and swearing at staff, puffing out his chest in intimidatory fashion towards the store supervisor.

A male staff member tried to divert Wharekawa’s attention.

The ranting continued and he threatened the worker with violence before preparing to leave.

On his way out, the court heard, Wharekawa pulled out a flick knife which he pointed at staff.

After slamming the blade into a perspex shield he threatened to return to the supermarket and stab people.

The armed offenders squad descend on a Mosgiel site after a man threatened to shoot a police...
The armed offenders squad descend on a Mosgiel site after a man threatened to shoot a police officer. PHOTO: ODT FILES

Police were called and an officer saw the defendant walking through Mosgiel.

Wharekawa refused to stop and told the senior constable he would need back-up.

Sensing trouble, the officer unclipped his taser, prompting the defendant to reach behind his back.

He claimed to have a firearm and would shoot the man, which caused him to retreat to his vehicle and call for back-up.

The armed offenders squad was called and soon apprehended Wharekawa, after he had stolen a bike from Taieri College.

But his arrest was not the end of the wild behaviour.

While at Wakari Hospital for an assessment the next day, the defendant damaged some bedding and later lost control when visiting hours ended and his family was required to leave.

Wharekawa charged a nurse who required assistance from a colleague to haul him back.

However, the man broke free and three more staff members were needed to restrain him, one of whom he bit on the leg.

While Wharekawa was held in a seclusion room, he issued a slew of threats to the nurse on duty.

He could not wait to kill her, he said, he knew which car she drove and would follow her home.

It was not a threat, it was a promise, Wharekawa said.

He also told the woman he would rape and stab her in front of her daughter, words which left her feeling "sick and unsafe", Judge Large said.

The offending, he said, was "very very serious".

"[The sentence has] got to be a deterrent to those who wander around supermarkets, or anywhere else for that matter, with knives," the judge said.

Wharekawa pleaded guilty to eight charges and was sentenced to 10 months’ home detention and ordered to pay $640 reparation.

Judge Large refused an Otago Daily Times application to photograph the defendant because of "mental health issues".



Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter