A teenaged service station robber has avoided being sent to jail for the first time by being sentenced to the maximum possible term of home detention.
Fairmont Ropata Wairama was 17 on April 23 this year when he and an accomplice with a hammer and a knife robbed the Mobil Havelock North station.
The offence could have got him up to 14 years in jail.
Appearing in Napier District Court on Friday, a day after his 18th birthday, he was given the fullest consideration by Judge Bridget Mackintosh for youthfulness and early admission and sentenced to 12 months' home detention.
It came with the sternest of warnings, that if he offends again or doesn't abide by the conditions of the year-long impost he could be back before the judge for dispatch to the nearest prison.
Wairama had pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated robbery and the unlawful taking of a green Subaru Legacy station wagon from Lipscombe Cr, Havelock North, for use in the heist.
The robbery came a few hours after an unrelated superette robbery in Napier and in a spate of smaller business robberies which have been plaguing Hawke's Bay this year.
A police summary said Wairama and a 16-year-old took the station wagon between 7pm and 7.45pm, picked-up two other teenagers from a nearby address, and drove into the Havelock North Village to start "casing" petrol stations and liquor stores.
Just before 8pm, the knife-wielding Wairama and an associate brandishing a hammer, both using jerseys to hide their faces, waited in the vehicle on the Mobil station forecourt while the lone attendant was serving a customer.
The pair entered the shop where Wairama grabbed the attendant and while flaying the knife, with the accomplice behind him brandishing the hammer, demanded: "Give up the cash."
Following the attendant behind the counter, the pair shut a door to block an escape route for the victim who then opened a till and gave Wairama $460.
The robbers then took cigarettes and tobacco worth $1669.50 from a cabinet before running from the store and leaving in the car driven by another accomplice.
The vehicle was hidden in a shed at an associate's address, and over the following days Wairama and one of the group stripped parts and removed the registration plates.
The robbery was recorded in full by security cameras, and police soon apprehended their suspects, recovered the car, and seized most of the clothing worn in the raid, but none of the cash, cigarettes or tobacco was found.
Police said Wairama "admitted the facts as outlined."