A man who acted as lookout for a teen offender during a violent dairy robbery where a mother and son were stabbed in Auckland last year has been jailed for 14 years.

Ngatama James Kaienua, 28, was found guilty of aggravated wounding and assault with intent to rob following a High Court trial earlier this year.

He never entered the dairy, but kept watch outside while a 16-year-old went inside the dairy with a kitchen knife.


Grey Lynn dairy attack: Lookout guilty of aggravated wounding

The youth cannot be identified for legal reasons.

Dairy owners Gita Patel and her son Siddartha were stabbed during the robbery.

During the trial the Crown argued that while Kaienua didn't stab Patel and Siddartha, he was criminally responsible because he aided and abetted the teenager.

Justice Ian Gault presided over the trial, and sentenced Kaienua this morning in the High Court at Auckland.

When Justice Gault delivered his verdict and convicted Kaienua on both charges, he also issued a third strike warning.

Ngatama James Kaienua kept watch outside the Grey Lynn dairy.
Ngatama James Kaienua kept watch outside the Grey Lynn dairy.

This means that by law, he has to impose the maximum penalty of 14 years' imprisonment without parole unless it would be manifestly unjust.

Defence lawyer Shane Tait asked Justice Gault to consider a shorter sentence with a minimum non parole term.


He said Kaienua had a lower level of culpability - and while he was "clearly a party" to the crime but his co offender was the one with the knife, "used the weapon, pulled it out... and entered on that frenzied attack".

Tait said his client could not have anticipated the violent offending carried out by the youth and that should be a factor in the sentence handed down.

He said Kaienua's personal circumstances should also be taken into account.

"His early life was rather tragic - he was brought up with a mother battling both drug and alcohol addictions," Tait explained.

"He wasn't a stranger to violence being dished out for no apparent reason."

He said Kaienua spent a lot of time outside his family home and took on a lot of responsibility for his young siblings, effectively raising them.

Tait submitted that imposing the full 14 year sentence with no parole would be "disproportionate" and 250 per cent more prison time than what would have been given had the three strikes legislation not existed.

Blood on the floor after a violent robbery at a dairy in Grey Lynn. Photo / Supplied via Police
Blood on the floor after a violent robbery at a dairy in Grey Lynn. Photo / Supplied via Police

He also said imposing a minimum non parole period would help with Kaienua's rehabilitation and give him "a light at the end of the tunnel".

Crown prosecutor Brian Dickey referred to victim impact statements provided to the court by the shop owners.

The statements were not read aloud, but Dickey said they clearly showed the devastation and enduring effects Kaienua's offending had on the "entirely innocent shopkeepers".

He said the witnesses were also "deeply impacted" by the crime.

Justice Gault said he was compelled to impose the full sentence - he had no choice under legislation given it was a third strike offence.

But he concluded it would be manifestly unjust not to order a minimum non parole period.

He said it had not been proven in court that Kaienua knew what the youth was going to do on the day, nor had he incited him.

Judge Gault said Gita and Siddartha Patel had both "suffered enormously" since the attack.

Siddartha Patel was stabbed six times and spent a significant amount of time in hospital.

He found it difficult to work at night or on his own.

"What they did that day and the consequences... will affect him for the rest of his life," said Justice Gault.

Gita Patel explained that when she saw her son being attacked she instinctively ran towards the offender.

She did not realise she had been stabbed nor that her shoulder was dislocated, until after the attack.

She said the attack had made it hard for her family to run their dairy.

"She and her husband do not go out to as many events in the community as they did before as they are scared to leave [Siddartha] alone," said Justice Gault.

"She has scars and horrible memories.

"It is clear they have both suffered enormously."

Justice Gault said Kaienua told the writer of a pre sentence report that he was "drunk and high at the time" of the robbery.

He had a history of substance abuse, a lack of impulse control and was a "high risk gambler".

He had been to prison on other serious offences.

Justice Gault acknowledged a further report that revealed Kaienua had mental health issues and should be monitored closely in prison.

As a result of abuse in his earlier life - which pushed him towards crime and gangs - he was mentally vulnerable and at risk of self harm, the report said.

And he had "severe anxiety" about being incarcerated.

He revealed Kaienua had convictions for sexual offending against a young girl - where he passed on a sexually transmitted infection - and an earlier aggravated robbery.

For the Grey Lynn dairy robbery, Justice Gault said he would impose a sentence of six years and three months if the three strikes law was not in place.

However, he was bound by the law.

He said it would be "psychologically catastrophic" and "manifestly unjust" for Kaienua, given his mental health, to serve the full term without the prospect of parole.

So, he ruled the final sentence would 14 years in jail with no minimum non parole period in place.

This means Kaienua is eligible for parole after serving a third of his sentence.

"I am not willing to write Mr Kaienua off... I hope there would be treatment for him," he said.

Kaienua pleaded not guilty to the charges and gave evidence in his own defence at trial.

He maintained the stabbing came as a total surprise.

He was captured on CCTV cameras at the scene looking calm during the incident, and explained in court that his demeanour was the result of his fear of being wrongly implicated in the crime.