Pair charged with armed robbery of women buying car through Facebook

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The two men are charged with being armed with an offensive weapon and robbing two women of $1060. Photo / Nick Reed
The two men are charged with being armed with an offensive weapon and robbing two women of $1060. Photo / Nick Reed

Two Wairarapa men have been arrested and charged with the armed robbery of two women in Masterton on Wednesday night.

Christopher Noel Stephens, 31, tattooist of Solway, and Floyd James Gatfield, 25, of Carterton, appeared in Masterton District Court today before court manager Helen Walker.

They were remanded in custody until August 25 when a bail application will be considered.

Both men are charged with being armed with an offensive weapon, namely a pistol, and robbing two women of $1060.

They were represented by duty solicitor Susie Barnes and no application for name suppression was lodged.

Police say the women were trying to purchase a vehicle that had been advertised on Facebook.

The Armed Offenders Squad and police stormed a Miriam St property in Masterton on Thursday night, executing a search warrant to locate the firearm believed to have been used in the theft.

Two men were arrested.

Detective Senior Sergeant Barry Bysouth said one of the men had refused to co-operate during the search and was later found hidden in the loft of the house.

The two victims, a local woman and another visiting the region, had been in their parked car on Roberts Rd near the intersection with French St when two men allegedly pointed a firearm at them and robbed them of cash at 8.30pm on Wednesday.

"One of the victims had travelled to the Wairarapa to purchase a car that had been advertised on Facebook," Mr Bysouth said.

"This is a timely reminder to anyone engaged in online transactions to be vigilant when meeting with potential sellers or purchasers."

He said the women were receiving help from Victim Support.

Some Miriam St residents had been blocked from entering their homes, Mr Bysouth said.
"We'd like to apologise for the inconvenience to those residents, and thank them for their patience as we worked to resolve this situation."

One nearby resident said she heard police calling to the offenders.

"When we got home at about 7pm they weren't flashing their lights but they were calling on a megaphone saying 'Come out with your hands up please, come through the front door if you're hiding'," she said.

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