A man who robbed the Caltex service station in Tauriko, near Tauranga, and assaulted the assistant manager was later found hiding in a cupboard wearing another set of clothing.

Navarone Fraser, 20, from Maungatapu, Tauranga, was sentenced in the Tauranga District Court to three-and-half-years' jail on Tuesday after he earlier pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery, unlawful entry into a building, unlawful use of a motor vehicle, and an unrelated charge of driving while disqualified.

The court heard the robbery happened at 6.40am on June 29 last year after a vehicle was stolen in Maungatapu Rd and then driven to the Caltex forecourt in Tauriko.

Fraser, who was a passenger in the vehicle, was wearing a bandanna and gloves.

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At the time of the robbery two customers were filling up their vehicle and another was being served by a shop assistant inside.

Fraser ran into the store and pushed products off the counter on the floor.

Making his way behind the counter, he yelled at the shop assistant to sit on the ground, which she did, then told her male customer to stay where he was.

Fraser then opened the tobacco cupboard and started pulling open drawers containing tobacco and cigarettes.

When the assistant manager had difficulty trying to open the cash till because he was scared, Fraser hit him in the head with a closed fist causing his nose to bleed.

The victim fell to the ground and Fraser ran from the store taking cigarettes and a tobacco cupboard drawer with him.

The getaway car crashed on the Kaimai Range heading towards Hamilton but a police patrol car spotted it as it travelled through Hinuera.

Fraser ran off and made his way to the Hinuera Rugby Club, where he took off his hooded sweatshirt and climbed through a toilet window.

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He discarded his cap in the rubbish, then put on a pair of track pants and a beanie he found in the club to disguise himself. A cleaner found him hiding in the toilet.

When police arrived Fraser was hiding in a cupboard. Police also found 70 packets of tobacco and six packs of cigarettes inside the stolen vehicle.

Judge Thomas Ingram said service station hold-ups were becoming an "almost daily crime somewhere in the country", particularly involving thefts of cigarettes and tobacco because they had become a valuable commodity, he said.

"The reality for you, Mr Fraser, in relation to aggravated robbery charges, the law on sentencing is clear that imprisonment is the only punishment available."

Judge Ingram jailed Fraser for three years and six months after giving him credit for his guilty pleas and willingness to take part in a restorative justice meeting with his victims.

A woman also charged in relation to the robbery will be sentenced next month.