Customers step in after robber’s punch

Customers seized and held a robber who punched out the shop assistant at an Opawa liquor shop.

The robber, Tipene Frederick Kaipara, had made his robbery attempt at 4.15pm on Saturday October 20 when four members of the public were in the shop.

The 45-year-old has now been jailed for two years six months by Christchurch District Court Judge Tony Couch after admitting the charge of causing grievous bodily harm with intent to rob.

A detailed report under the Criminal Procedures (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act showed that Kaipara has had a longstanding mentally disorder which has recently led to him being admitted as an in-patient at Hillmorton Hospital.

With treatment, the condition had improved, Judge Couch said at Kaipara’s sentencing. At the time of the incident, he had been dealing with issues relating to drugs, alcohol, and grief over the death of his father.

Defence counsel Elizabeth Bulger said Kaipara had moved to Christchurch to get better-earning work after losing his job in another centre. He had been in a job in Christchurch until the incident.

She said Kaipara could not believe he had committed such a serious assault, but accepted he had done it.

Judge Couch said Kaipara had been under the influence of others at the time, when he went to the Opawa bottle shop while he was drunk. He selected three bottles of spirits but punched the shop assistant in the face when he was told the price.

The victim was knocked backwards and received a broken nose and bruised face. He had been left with on-going emotional harm and “some level of disfigurement”, said the judge.

Kaipara tried to leave the bottle store with two of the bottles, but the customers present restrained him and held him until the police arrived.

Judge Couch noted previous convictions for assault in 2009, assault with intent to injure in 2015 and injuring with intent the same year.

He increased the sentence for the criminal history but reduced it for the early guilty plea and Kaipara’s remorse. At his pre-sentence interview, he told the probation officer that he accepted he was responsible for the harm caused and had to “pay for the crime”.