Synthetic cannabis drove dairy robbery bid

March 12, 2015 | By More

Court House-general1Synthetic cannabis was in the dock again as a teenager was jailed for 26 months for his part in the botched armed robbery of a Christchurch dairy.

Nineteen-year-old Aidan Harry Francis stayed in the car and acted as a look-out while Alexander William Edward Cottrell, 17, tried to rob the Yaldhurst diary on June 21.

Cottrell went in with an unloaded air rifle, pointed it at the dairy owner’s face and demanded cash and cigarettes.

The brave dairy owner realised it was not a high-powered rifle and wrestled with Cottrell who had to flee without his cash, cigarettes, or the air rifle. He ran 500m to make his getaway in the car in which Francis was waiting.

Cottrell pleaded guilty and was sentenced in December when he was jailed for two years five months.

Francis pleaded guilty about that time and has been in custody awaiting sentence in the Christchurch District Court by Judge Jane Farish.

Defence counsel Penny Brown pointed out that Francis had gone ahead with rehabilitation and training courses during his time in custody on remand.

Judge Farish said Francis had been in the grip of an addiction to synthetic cannabis at the time of the robbery, where he was to share the proceeds with his co-offender.

She said that two months in custody had given Francis some appreciation of how disturbed his thinking had been. “You have now recognised how your addiction to cannabis and synthetic cannabis has removed you a long way from the supportive and pro-social family you have.”

The judge told him: “That awful drug (synthetic cannabis) can lead very good young people like yourself, with very good prospects, upon a very dark journey.”

The pre-sentence report writer said: “Mr Francis is a testament to the fact that the substance synthetic cannabis can take young people to places a long way removed from their otherwise pro-social lives.”

Judge Farish noted that while in prison he had completed a motivational drug and alcohol rehabilitation programme, an industrial operator’s certificate, a drainlayer’s certificate, and a first aid course. These courses were setting him up well for his eventual release by the Parole Board.

She noted he wished to apologise to the robbery victim and appreciated the effect of the offending.

She imposed the jail sentence but told Francis to “keep up the good work” with his rehabilitation efforts.


Category: Focus

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