Two men sentenced for trying to rob Whakatane bar

By Katee Shanks

The two men beaten by patrons as they tried to rob a Whakatane bar have been told by a district court judge that they were the "last in a line of sorry citizens" who tried the same thing in the same area and had been caught.

When sentencing 23-year-olds Mateni Lynch and Jebidiah Adam Marks today on a charge of assault with intent to rob, Judge Thomas Ingram told both men they were too dumb to realise police would catch them.

He sentenced each of the men to four years' jail.

"The level of stupidity required to undertake a robbery in Whakatane is huge," Judge Ingram said. "Especially when there is a pool tournament being played and everyone is armed with pool cues.

Judge Ingram said in the eight years he had been sitting in the Whakatane District Court "no one in Whakatane has ever got away with aggravated robbery".

The court had earlier been told that on December 5 Lynch and Marks had gone to the Kope Turf Bar. Marks was armed with a sawn-off shotgun and had the ammunition in his pocket.

They tried to rob the bar but patrons taking part in a pool tournament overwhelmed both men.

Marks was held captive until police arrived and Marks was found a short time later.

When initially spoken to by police, Marks said the arrival of police at the scene had been like a rescue.

Marks was hit in the back of the head with a pool cue and a bar stool and also beaten by patrons while Lynch was on the receiving end of a violent struggle between himself and patrons.

Crown prosecutor Hayley Sheridan sought a six-year jail time as a start point but agreed time should be deducted because of the men's ages, their early guilty plea and the genuine remorse they had shown.

Judge Ingram said he believed Marks was capable of doing well in life after he was released from jail but he said he was not so sure about Lynch.

"I do believe both of you are remorseful for what you have done and your apologies are heartfelt," Judge Ingram said.

Lynch did not have any support in court while the large number of people supporting Marks told him as he left the courtoom that they loved him and to hold his head high.


- Rotorua Daily Post

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