Wellington, Nov 13: An 18-year-old has been sentenced to more than three years in jail in New Zealand for his role in robbing and attacking an Indian dairy store owner repeatedly with a metal bar, leaving him with a permanent leg injury.
Nicholas Tumanako was among four robbers who targeted Nitin Patel's store in Hamilton on July 6, and fled with NZ$300 cash and cigarettes after kicking and punching the victim multiple times, the New Zealand Herald newspaper reported.
Tumanako pleaded guilty to two charges of motor vehicle conversion and one of aggravated robbery at the Hamilton District Court last week.
The court heard that Patel was on the phone on the afternoon of July 6 when three armed men jumped out of a stolen car and stormed the Silverdale Superette in Hamilton.
While one of the robbers whacked Patel with a metal bar several times, the other jumped over the counter.
Tumanako ran in wielding an axe and smashed it down on the counter before dropping it, running out the back then returning and picking up dropped coins off the floor.
The group ripped out the till and stole cigarettes before running out and again attacking Patel with a metal bar.
Thereafter, the driver of the stolen car got out and kicked Patel in the head and punched him before feeling off with the three robbers with NZ$300 cash and an unknown quantity of cigarettes.
Appearing in defence of his client, counsel Kaleb Whyte told the court that although Tumanako had an axe, he only used it to strike the counter and then immediately dropped it, not to use it again.
The violence involved in the robbery was “immediately acknowledged” by his client who was genuinely remorseful.
Judge Philip Crayton said Patel was not in the best of health before the attack and now he had been left with a debilitating leg injury from the armed robbery, and his business had suffered financially.
“This involved a serious assault. This was violence which plainly was gratuitous. It was over and above which could possibly have been necessary to carry out the offence against this person," Judge Crayton was quoted as saying in The Herald. While Patel continues to work, his son said that his father could no longer lift anything heavy or run after the attack, and needs help to get up if he sits or lies down.
Patel said he is not scared of the robbers but fears for the safety of his young family members who might be working in the store in future.