Dairy robber ‘was always going to be caught’

A gun-point dairy robber was always going to get caught – he wore no disguise and he was well known at the shop he robbed.

Christchurch District Court Judge Alistair Garland today praised he bravery of the woman shop assistant who refused to hand over the tobacco that 27-year-old Chaynce Te-Aowera Mafautauga Lene was demanding, even when he held a pistol on the counter, pointing at her.

The woman said: “When he was pointing the gun at me I was quite scared. He could have shot me because I refused to put the tobacco in the bag.”

Instead, Lene left the Avenue Dairy on Fitzgerald Avenue on May 19, 2018, with a bag containing chips, soft drinks, and ice creams, total value $22.

Judge Garland said the value of the robbery would have been higher without “the victim’s very brave response”.

The judge jailed Lene for three years 11 months when he sentenced him on nine charges: armed robbery, possession of a knife in a public place, possession of a methamphetamine pipe, drink-driving, breach of community work, driving while his licence was suspended for demerit points, and two breaches of bail, and a burglary.

Lene had admitted most charges, but was found guilty at a trial of being a party to a house burglary committed by a woman.

The trial was told that the Phillipstown household had been burgled by the woman because she believed the residents had taken money from her daughter’s bank account and wanted to teach them a lesson.

After the dairy robbery, Lene told the police he was “desperado – I wanted the smokes and had no money to pay for them”.

Defence counsel Rupert Glover said Lene was genuninely remorseful. He said Lene was never going to get away with the robbery because he had not worn a disguise “and he was well known at the dairy”.

Probation assessed him as a high likelihood of further offending. He did not express remorse but he accepted responsibility and was motivated to accept treatment. They recommended treatment to address his offending and poor decision making. His offending was seen as stemming from his meth use, supportive associates, and his “offending supportive attitude”.

Lene, whose mother was in court, has written an apology to the robbery victim, and Judge Garland said he had written a “thoughtful” letter to the court.

Lene said he had an “awesome” upbringing, but in recent years had become involved with methamphetamine. He said his addiction was the cause of his offending, but he had been too embarassed to admit the problem or ask for help.

Judge Garland imposed a series of sentences totalling 3 years 11 months’ jail, ordered him to pay reparation for the robbery and burglary, and disqualified him from driving for six months.