Dairy robber caught in Dunedin after 14 years

A man who escaped justice for 14 years after a violent dairy robbery has been captured in Dunedin.

The breakthrough in the Wellington cold case came after DNA profiling identified Christopher Stephen Tilby (38).

Arrested on cannabis charges in Dunedin, Tilby was in court yesterday after admitting his part in the aggravated robbery of the Zoo Park dairy in Newtown.

Tilby told Dunedin police he ''did lose some sleep'' over the crime, committed with three others on May 15, 2000. One associate threatened the dairy owner's 13-year-old daughter with a baton and another closed the door to the back room and the girl's mother.

The girl frantically pressed a buzzer to alert her mother but the associate standing by the door pushed the woman forcefully backwards, causing her to fall against a couch and break six ribs.

Tilby and the baton-wielding associate took cigarettes and more than $310 which they put in a pillow case before leaving the dairy. They sped away in a stolen Honda which was abandoned near the Wellington Railway Station and the offenders travelled by train to Porirua.

DNA found in the abandoned car was identified as belonging to Tilby two years ago as a result of advances in DNA analysis.

He told Dunedin police the robbery was not planned, describing it as ''just one of those things''.

He yesterday admitted his part in the robbery and the taking of the car. He also admitted unrelated charges of possessing cannabis and a cannabis smoking pipe in Dunedin last week and was remanded in custody by Judge Stephen Coyle for sentence next month.