14-year-old sentenced for aggravated robbery

By Abigail Hartevelt

Rotorua has had a spate of aggravated robbies and they need to stop, a Rotorua Youth Court judge has warned.

"The message has to get out into the community that it is inappropriate to behave in such thug-like fashion," Judge Marie McKenzie told a 14-year-old she was sentencing for aggravated robbery.

The 14-year-old, who cannot legally be named, appeared in the Rotorua Youth Court yesterday for sentencing after previously admitting a charge of aggravated robbery of the Gull Service Station on Edmund Rd. He had also previously admitted a charge of possession of an offensive weapon - a baseball bat.

Judge McKenzie sentenced the youth, who was wearing a T-shirt with the words "Call My Agent", to four months' residential supervision.

She said about 7.45pm on May 25 the 14-year-old and a 15-year-old went to the service station. They were both disguised with the 14-year-old wearing a bandanna over his nose and mouth. His co-offender had a BB gun which he presented at the staff member and said "Give us the money or I will shoot".

The 14-year-old threw a backpack on the counter and the attendant filled it with cash. He grabbed the bag and they ran off with $540 cash.

Judge McKenzie said the 14-year-old had played a lesser role in the aggravated robbery and the 15-year-old, who had previously been sentenced to six months's residential supervision, was the ringleader.

Referring to the charge of possession of an offensive weapon, Judge McKenzie said the 14-year-old had made the comment that he was going to "Ford Block to smash some n******".

"That is absolutely disgusting. It's shameful to speak like that about anybody."

Judge McKenzie said the 14-year-old had shown genuine remorse and had written an apology to the victim. He had not been involved in education and it was a major concern that at his age he had such a problem with drugs and alcohol that he required residential treatment.

The 14-year-old is facing other dishonesty charges which his lawyer, Andy Schulze, asked be dismissed as he had not received all the information by the police despite a direction by the judge.

Judge McKenzie took police to task for not following her written direction of September 18 to provide all the information in relation to those charges by Thursday last week. However, the officer in charge of the case appeared before the judge and said he was not aware of the court-ordered direction. Prosecutor Sergeant Bill Scott said there had been a breakdown in communication among police.

Judge McKenzie said she would not dismiss the charges but said it was a basic principle that judges expected their directions to be complied with.

The youth is expected to appear in court again on October 16 to deal with the other charges.


- Rotorua Daily Post

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