Armed robbers nabbed by bar patrons wanted 'easy money'

By Katee Shanks of The Daily Post -
The Turf Bar in James St, Whakatane. Photo / Daily Post
The Turf Bar in James St, Whakatane. Photo / Daily Post

Two armed robbers who were nabbed by patrons at the Whakatane bar they tried to hold up thought the heist would be easy money "like in the movies".

Jebidiah Adam Marks and Mateni Lynch, both 23 and both of Whakatane, have both entered guilty pleas to a joint charge of aggravated robbery. Marks appeared in the Whakatane District Court before Judge Robert Wolff today. He was supported by a large group of family and friends.

Lynch pleaded guilty when the pair first appeared in the Opotiki District Court on December 6.

The police summary of facts said Marks and Lynch became neighbours in October this year. Soon afterwards, and following talks about how stressed both were about having no money for Christmas, Lynch suggested "doing robberies", and said it was "an easy way to make money like in the movies".

They kept talking until December when the plans became serious and Marks obtained a 12 gauge sawn-off shotgun and three rounds of live ammunition.

At 7.30pm on December 5, the men went to the Kope Turf Bar but decided to wait as there were too many people and cars about at the time.

They returned at 9.30pm wearing gloves and balaclavas. Marks went into the bar and presented the gun at patrons and staff. The gun was not loaded but Marks had the ammunition in his pocket.

Lynch followed Marks into the bar and headed straight for the back, demanding money from the woman working behind the bar and demanding she take him to the safe before pushing her into a rear staffroom.

Several patrons came to help the bar woman and a violent struggle broke out between them and Lynch. A cash till crashed to the ground, glasses were broken, items were knocked over and cupboards were damaged.

Lynch called to Marks to "bring the gun," and he did. As Marks told the patrons to 'get off Lynch or he would shoot them', two patrons walked behind him and hit him over the head with a pool cue and a barstool. He fell to the ground before trying to flee the bar in a dazed state. The patrons chased him, took the gun, and held him until police arrived.

Lynch was able to escape the clutches of the patrons but was arrested at his home later that night.

Marks told police he was relieved when police arrested him.

Judge Wolff remanded him in custody until February 5 when he will be sentenced. Lynch is also in custody and will be sentenced on January 30.

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