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Fourteen years jail for man who acted as lookout while Auckland dairy workers were stabbed during robbery

By Anneke Smith for rnz.co.nz

A man who acted as a lookout while a teenager tried to rob a dairy with a knife in Auckland has been jailed for 14 years.

Gita Patel and her son Siddartha were stabbed in Grey Lynn's Hylite Dairy in the early evening of June 19 last year.

Ngatama Kaienua stood trial in the High Court at Auckland earlier this year after pleading not guilty to aggravated wounding and assault with intent to rob.

The 28-year-old Ōtāhuhu man kept watch while a 16-year-old, who cannot be identified, went inside the dairy with a sharp kitchen knife.

The teenager waited until the shop was clear of customers before moving behind the counter to stab Siddartha and then Gita Patel when she came rushing to help her son.

Siddartha was stabbed six times in the head, shoulder and stomach and spent six weeks recovering in hospital. Gita was also stabbed and broke her shoulder when rushing to help her son.

The scene of the attack in June last year. Source: RNZ / Anneke Smith

At sentencing this morning the court heard the Patel family had struggled to run their shop since the attack and both victims now struggled to work at night.

At his judge-alone trial, the Crown argued while Kaienua didn't stab the Patels he was criminally responsible by aiding and abetting the teenager.

Justice Gault's guilty verdicts were met with tears from the defendant and his family, who sat in the public gallery throughout the trial and heard the last few minutes of the hour-long sentencing.

The offending is Kaienua's third strike under the three strikes legislation; meaning the judge must impose the maximum penalty without parole unless it would be manifestly unjust.

Both charges carry maximum penalties of 14 years' imprisonment but Kaienua's defence lawyer Shane Tait said a jail term of eight years would be appropriate.

He said while his client knew the teenager was carrying a knife he could not have anticipated the violent offending that would follow.

Mr Tait also asked the judge to consider Kaienua's background.

"One could describe his upbringing as rather tragic with his mother battling alcohol and drug addictions.

"The pre-sentence report and psychological assessment found he wasn't a stranger to violence being dished out for little or no reason."

Crown prosecutor Brian Dickey said the psychological report made for telling reading but the offending was serious and had permanently affected the victims.

"It's important to acknowledge the devastation and enduring affect this offending has had on these two entirely innocent shopkeepers."

Justice Gault said it was clear the victims had suffered enormously but found it would be manifestly unjust to impose the maximum penalty on Kaienua.

He said the pre-sentence report writer found the contributing factors to the offending were the man's propensity for violence, substance abuse, friends and associates, poor problem solving skills and a lack of impulse control.

The court heard he was at a high risk of re-offending with a complex psychological profile that included childhood abuse and neglect and borderline personality traits.

Justice Gault sentenced Kaienua to 14 years' imprisonment with no minimum non-parole period.

Speaking to RNZ after the verdicts in July, Hylite Dairy owner Navin Patel said he was pleased with the result and his family had received good support from the local business community.

Ngatama Kaienua, 28, on trial at the High Court. Source: rnz.co.nz