A store worker clung to an attacker's legs as he was bashed with a crude club embedded with nails during an unprovoked assault.

Keri Anthony Phillips , 50, pleaded guilty in the Napier District Court today to assault with intent to rob and two charges of theft.

The assault was carried out with a crude weapon that had nails protruding from its head. Police noted that it was a miracle that the nails did not puncture the victim's skin.

Judge Tony Adeane sentenced Phillips to three and a half years in prison for the assault with intent to rob offence, and one month for each of the theft charges. The sentences are concurrent.


Judge Adeane noted that Phillips had a 35-year criminal history mostly for dishonesty, and had 179 previous convictions, although there had been a lull in the past decade.

A police summary of facts stated that on January 5 this year, Phillips went into the Discount Specialists store in Charles St, Hastings and bought some cigarette filters.

Phillips, wearing a hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses, looked around the store, and scoped out a door to an enclosed area, behind the counter, before leaving.

The snapped handle of the homemade weapon.
The snapped handle of the homemade weapon.

Phillips later drove past the shop numerous times before stopping and parking across the road.

A Discount Specialists worker began to close up at 4.45pm.

Phillips walked into the store, hiding a homemade weapon - a wooden handle with five nails embedded in its head - under his sweatshirt.

Phillips hit the worker in the back of the head with the weapon and pushed him to the ground.

He stomped on the man, as the man clung to his legs, and hit him with the weapon which broke into three pieces during the attack.


Phillips eventually fled the store.

The worker received bruises and swelling to his head, arms and legs with
further tenderness to parts of his head, face and body.

Defence counsel Leo Lafferty had told Judge Adeane that Phillips was remorseful for his actions, while Crown prosecutor Clayton Walker said it was "serious offending of its kind".

The theft charges related to a petrol theft from Z Energy in Havelock North where he stole $112 worth of petrol in August 2018.

He returned to the same petrol station in December 2018 and stole $60 before driving off.