Man jailed for claw hammer robbery

A 27-year-old says he robbed a Bryndwr service station because he owed a drug debt to a gang.

Paul Graham Alan Rogers was jailed for two years five months for the August 24 robbery of the Challenge Service Station on Blighs Road – the first of two robberies of that station on the same weekend.

Rogers had pleaded guilty to the armed robbery charge, and appeared for sentence before Judge David Saunders in the Christchurch District Court after a remand in custody.

Rogers covered his face as a disguise and took a claw hammer before going to the service station at 8.20pm.

He threatened the sole attendant, a man in his 50s, and demanded cash and cigarettes. He left with $1520 cash and cigarettes worth $490.

A police investigation quickly found him, and he made full admissions in an interview.

Defence counsel Elizabeth Bulger urged the judge to grant sentence reductions for Rogers’ remorse, early guilty plea, and an offer from his mother to pay the full reparations of $1740.

She said that Rogers had held down significant employment, and had plenty of support from his family and from the community. If he had asked for support for the problem he was facing, he would have got it, she said. She urged the judge to reduce the jail term to two years which would allow home detention to be considered.

“Nobody knew the depth of the despair he was in,” she said. “He was in a dark place, and did not want to burden anybody else.”

Crown prosecutor Sophia Bicknell Young said Rogers’ face had been covered and he had been holding a weapon. It would have been very frightening for the victim.

Judge Saunders said the victim had been scared, but had been able to return to his work.

He said Rogers had explained that he felt under pressure to pay a drug debt to a gang.

Probation assessed him as a low risk of reoffending, but noted his lack of problem solving skills.

“Clearly, you now realise there were alternative ways of solving the problem you were in because of the drug debt,” said the judge.

He ordered reparation and jailed Rogers for two years five months – beyond the range for home detention – but said he hoped that the Parole Board would see him as an excellent prospect for rehabilitation into the community. They might consider him, after serving about 10 months, for a release under residential restrictions, which is like home detention.

He expected that while in prison, Rogers would do programmes relating to problem solving and alcohol and drug rehabilitation.

Two days after Rogers’ robbery, three people robbed the same service station of cash and cigarettes.