Violent pizza shop robbery charge dropped

May 16, 2017 | By More

Police have had to drop the charge against a man they accused of the violent robbery of a Bishopdale pizza shop after his alibi checked out.

A staff member at Domino’s Pizzas was stabbed in the lower stomach during the February 13 robbery.

Gordon Nicci Mana Haar Kopara, 26, has been held in custody for three months since his arrest about two days later.

He was almost certainly being released from Christchurch Men’s Prison yesterday after pleading guilty to two other charges, and after the Crown did not proceed with a third charge of unlawful possession of a firearm.

Judge Garland sentenced him to three months’ jail, but Kopara has already served all of that sentence while on remand.

Kopara admitted breaching his prison release conditions by not reporting to a probation officer, and possession of a restricted weapon – a small canister of pepper spray.

Two heavily disguised men went into the pizza shop about 10.10pm on a Monday night.

A shop staff member said after the robbery that the offenders became angry because the shop’s takings were in a time delayed safe and they couldn’t get any more than about $150. One staff member was stabbed in the lower stomach and the other received a cut to the top of his chest.

Kopara was charged over the restricted weapon when it was found in a bag in a car that was stopped about a week before the robbery. He was a passenger in the car.

Defence counsel Andrew McKenzie told the court that Kopara had been due to report to probation in February but did not go to their office because he had heard armed police were seeking him after the robbery. “He thought he would be shot,” said Mr McKenzie.

Judge Garland said he did not accept that. He said it was very unlikely that Kopara would have been shot, unless he had been armed himself. Mr McKenzie said he had not been armed.

When he first appeared in court charged with robbery, Kopara abused the judge and scuffled with court escort staff.

Since then, Kopara had produced alibi evidence claiming he was somewhere else at the time of the robbery, Mr McKenzie explained. Police checked the cellphone records and found they supported the alibi. “After two months, police accepted his explanation and withdrew the aggravated robbery charge,” he said.

Judge Garland noted that Kopara had previous convictions for breaches of prison release conditions.

 

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