Armed robber Douglas Anderson Roake pleaded guilty this week to a string of violent hold-ups and a double shooting in Canterbury. Two of his victims speak exclusively to Andrew King.

"F*** I can't believe this is happening again."

That was the first thing that came into the mind of a The Brick Works bar staff worker when angry armed robber Douglas Roake shot his way in late on Wednesday night, March 29.

Just two weeks earlier the staff member had been on duty when Roake had robbed the Centaurus Rd bar at gunpoint.

Advertisement

This time Roake was very agitated.

Unable to get in after the doors were locked as the last patrons were finishing up their drinks, he simply shot his way in. The damage from his shotgun is still visible.

The robberies have taken their toll on the bartender and the manager who have endured both robberies.

Said the bartender: "I have suffered panic attacks, insomnia, sleep paralysis since the robberies, but that is getting better now."

"You don't want to relive it but you do every morning when we walk in the door."

"I'm still scared to enter the toilet [in the bar] because I am unsure who could be behind the door."

Neither the bartender or manager will be identified. It is the first time they have spoken publicly, about the ordeal every hospitality worker dreads.

When Roake could not get in he violently tried to open the door.

The bartender was drying glasses behind the bar. She looked up and saw a man hunched over with a gun pointed through the glass at her. The manager was stacking chairs on tables.

"I was in disbelief that it was happening again. I just went into shock," the manager said.

The bartender crouched down and retreated to the kitchen to warn other staff they were being robbed again.

The manager went to the back of the restaurant and phoned 111. She then heard the shot and quickly said into the phone: "If anyone can hear me, please help us."

Broken glass from a gunshot at the entrance to the Brick Works bar. Photo / Andrew King
Broken glass from a gunshot at the entrance to the Brick Works bar. Photo / Andrew King

Kitchen staff hearing the shot hid in the chiller. The bartender refused.

"I don't do well in enclosed places and didn't want to be in there if he opened it and fired the gun inside," she said.

Roake entered through the hole he had blown in the door and demanded: "Come out with your hands up." His voice was frantic.

The bartender appeared from the kitchen hands up. The kitchen staff stayed in the chiller.

She and another bartender were ordered on the ground, and the manager was ordered to fill a bag with money.

The bartender knew it was the same robber from the previous hold-up. His voice gave him away.

"It was a surreal experience lying on the floor while there is a gunman in the building wanting money," she said.

Roake asked if there was a back way to leave.

"No, everything is bolted shut," the bartender said.

Roake was agitated and very aggressive as he pointed the gun in a threatening manner telling them they "were doing well, I don't want to hurt you, but if you move I will."

He then demanded money from the pokies, as he had during the first robbery. He was told it would take longer this time, as they had not cleared the machines.

He ordered the manager and bartender into the pokie room for more cash before telling the bartender: "You come with me".

Panic filled. She thought she would be taken as a hostage. She decided she wouldn't go without a fight. But all Roake wanted was for her to zip up his loot bag. She fumbled which made him angry. He yelled at her to hurry up.

Roake told her to lie back down and he left through the hole in the front door. He walked a short distance along Centaurus Rd, but returned to pick up the spent cartridge by the door.

The manager says Roake was in the bar for at least 10 minutes.

When police arrived they ordered everyone out of the bar at gunpoint, something that was just as traumatic as the robbery itself, she said.

The manager says the robberies have affected her.

"Sometimes, I don't want to be here, but I have too. You can't run away in life, you have to confront the demons."

In the first robbery on March 14, Roake again struck at closing time. Staff waiting outside for a lift home were marched into the bar at gunpoint.

They were ordered onto the ground and the manger told to hand over the money. He made everyone get on the ground while he demanded money from the manager.

"You're doing well ma'am," Roake said as she complied with his orders.

"When it happened I just turned into a zombie. I couldn't tell you what was going through my mind," the manager said.

She will always be puzzled why Roake targeted the bar, not once but twice.

She and the bartender went to court to hear Roake.

"We went to court to hear his voice to put our minds at ease that it was him and that the guy was not still out there," the manager said.

One way the manager and one of the bartenders have taken their mind off things is buying Fitbits, a device that monitors how many steps you take. That has now turned into a bit of a competition.

"I am currently winning," the manager laughed.

Responding, the bartender said: "It is because she goes for huge walks in the morning before I have even got up."

Armed robber Douglas Roake shot his way into the Brick Works bar. Photo / via Police
Armed robber Douglas Roake shot his way into the Brick Works bar. Photo / via Police

Roake's robberies and shootings

• March 10 - Tavern Harewood robbed at about 10.45pm. $18,982 was taken, but he dropped about $2000 while fleeing.

• March 14 and 29 - The Brick Works was robbed twice. Once at about 10.45pm on March 14 and again at about 11pm on March 29 where he shot his way into the bar through a locked door. $43,000 was taken in the first robbery and $12,000 in the second.

• March 24 - Trevinos Restaurant and Bar was robbed just before midnight. $29,708 was taken.

• April 6 - Springston Hotel robbed with shots fired inside the bar at about 10.30pm. ​$10,000 was taken.

• April 19 - Roake shot a woman and her daughter at a property on Newtons Rd, near Rolleston, at about 10pm. Both survived. He fled the property and headed for Ashburton.

• April 19 - Hotel Ashburton's Turf Bar was robbed by Roake at gunpoint at about 11.20pm with several shots fired during the hold-up. $1645 was taken.

• A total of $115,335 was taken from the six robberies.

Broken glass from a gunshot at the entrance to the Brick Works bar. Photo / Andrew King
Broken glass from a gunshot at the entrance to the Brick Works bar. Photo / Andrew King

Armed robber should never be let out

Serial armed robber Douglas Anderson Roake should never be let free.

That is the view of the manager of The Brick Works bar in Cashmere which was robbed twice in March by the 23-year-old.

He fired shots during the second robbery.

Said the manager, who declined to be identified: "I don't think he should ever get out. What he has done is completely life-changing.

"If he could do what he did to those young ladies out in Rolleston and all of us, what is to stop him doing it all over again. To pull a trigger, especially on another person is a whole other level."

Roake was captured by police after he shot two women in Rolleston during a home invasion in April, one was seriously injured. He then drove south to Ashburton and robbed a hotel later that night.

He was apprehended at the Rakaia Huts the following morning.

Roake pleaded guilty on Monday to the robbery of six hotels, two charges of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, and two charges of presenting a firearm.

His reign of terror was carried out over two months, instilling fear throughout the hospitality industry.

Police mounted a special taskforce to catch him.

Said the manager: "There is nothing that would make me feel better about him being back out. We feel protected while he is locked up."

In May The Christchurch Star revealed that Roake was part of the security team that worked at Richie and Gemma McCaw's wedding.

He has been remanded in custody until sentencing on August 23.