Dairy owner worried about safety in NZ

Court House-Sept-2013-05A dairy owner who emigrated to New Zealand with his family is wondering about their safety after the second armed robbery of his Yaldhurst dairy. A knife was used in the first robbery, and an air rifle in the second, which happened on June 21.

The second time, the victim pushed the gun aside and wrestled with the masked teenage robber, Alexander William Cottrell.

In spite of being punched in the face, the dairy owner held on and disarmed the 17-year-old who had to flee from the shop without the cash and tobacco he wanted, and without the air rifle.

The dairy owner’s actions were described as courageous by Judge Jane Farish at Cottrell’s Christchurch District Court sentencing on a charge of assault with intent to rob.

Cottrell admitted the charge in August and was remanded in custody for sentencing. He has now been jailed for two years five months and ordered to pay $65 for damage he did by scratching the wall of a police cell while in custody. He was on sentences of community work and supervision at the time of the robbery.

Defence counsel Steve Hembrow said Cottrell was now remorseful, and had been co-operative with the police. He accepted that it had been a stupid and potentially dangerous thing to do. “He has no desire to hurt anyone,” Mr Hembrow said.

He had done well in prison, which was seen as “therapeutic” for him at this stage. He had been continuing with his education while in custody.

Judge Farish said that Cottrell and another young man had decided to rob a dairy and Cottrell had gone into the shop with an unloaded air rifle and with his face disguised. He pointed the rifle at the owner’s face and demanded money.

The dairy owner asked Cottrell to move the gun away from his face, and then pushed it away, and grabbed the muzzle. Cottrell lost the struggle that followed and fled to the car where the co-offender was waiting.

Judge Farish said the dairy owner did not know whether the rifle was loaded when he tackled Cottrell. He and his family had been worried that Cottrell might return, and could not sleep. They had now sold the dairy and gone into another business.

The man had come to New Zealand with his family thinking it was a safe country, said Judge Farish. “They are now very concerned as to their safety within the community.”

She detailed Cottrell’s background, but suppressed publication of details, and said he was not “irredeemable”. She noted his achievements and the certificates he had obtained while in custody. He was committed to rehabilitation.

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