Hotel robber jailed

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OWNERS: Edgecumbe Plains Hotel owners Grant and Rhonda Webb believe public security cameras will help solve crime quicker. Photo Adyn Ogle D5885-9

THE armed robber who stole more than $7000 at the Edgecumbe Plains Hotel last year has been sentenced to prison.

The sentencing has provided closure for hotel owners Grant and Rhonda Webb and the Edgecumbe community, which was left shaken by the February 10 hold-up in which Issac Broughton threatened staff and patrons with a shotgun.

Broughton appeared in the Tauranga District Court on August 17 for sentence on an aggravated robbery charge to which he had initially pleaded not guilty.

He was sentenced to seven years behind bars with a non-parole period of two years.

The sentence will be served at the same time as the life sentence Broughton is serving for the murder of Shon Wanahi, who he shot and killed at the Papakura Railway Station a month after robbing the Edgecumbe Plains Hotel.

With a non-parole period of 12 years for the murder, and the grievous bodily harm caused to Bunji Fenton who he shot in the arm, Judge

Thomas Ingram said Broughton would serve a total of 14 years minimum for all offences.
It was 11.51pm on a Wednesday, just as the Edgecumbe Plains Hotel was about to close, that Broughton entered carrying a 12-gauge shotgun.

Two staff members and two patrons were in the hotel at the time; the bar staff were closing the pokie machines and removing cash from them.

One of the staff members was placing cash from the machines into envelopes and onto a chair when Broughton ran up to the pokie machines and, holding the gun at shoulder height, aimed it at the woman and shouted at her to get on the ground.

He yelled at her, asking where the money was, and she pointed to the money on the chair.

After grabbing the money, he ran to the patrons, pointed the gun at the man’s head and demanded money.

The man threw his wallet to Broughton who picked it up but dropped it on his way out to the getaway vehicle.

At sentencing, Judge Ingram said Broughton was given more than $7000.

‘I don’t know if prison will change him’

For Edgecumbe Plains Hotel owners Grant and Rhonda Webb and their staff, having Issac Broughton behind bars provides closure.

“It will be a long time before the guy is out and I don’t know if prison will change him. He hasn’t had to face up to anyone,” Mrs Webb said.

The Webbs believe Broughton, who previously pleaded not guilty to the aggravated robbery charge, changed his plea after being told about someone testifying against him.

They are thankful their staff did not have to go through giving evidence at a trial.

“The girls didn’t want to face him. It was hanging over their head that they would have to face him,” Mr Webb said.

“It’s been a big part of their closure, they have been heard and recognised but they didn’t have to sit across the court room from him and explain what happened.

Staff involved in the robbery were left traumatised but because of the “Edgecumbe way” Mrs Webb said the ladies picked themselves up, dusted themselves off and carried on.

“It shows what kind of people they are, to come back in and face the public every day.”

Although Broughton is behind bars, the Webbs remain concerned about other people involved in the offending, like the getaway car driver.

Mrs Webb understood Broughton, who wasn’t from the area, was staying in Edgecumbe.

“He was helped by locals,” she said.

“One of the hardest things on the staff, not just the two women, is knowing that locals who still come in here know and helped [Broughton].

They don’t know if they are serving and smiling at someone who had done that.”

The arrest and sentencing were testaments to the Edgecumbe police, the couple said.

The police, who had kept in contact with Mr and Mrs Webb throughout the process, picked up on little details that led them to the arrest.

“Their investment in this community is huge. They genuinely [care].”

Mr and Mrs Webb have been supporters of installing public security cameras in Edgecumbe for a long time.

They believe if cameras were monitoring the entries and exits at Edgecumbe, police would have been able to identify the vehicle used in the aggravated robbery.

“It’s a no brainer to have CCTV here.”

Recently, the hotel has been burgled twice.

Two weeks ago, staff were hit with an attempted robbery. Mrs Webb said disguised and unidentifiable offenders entered the bar at 8.30pm and demanded money but were quickly ushered out the door.

A month ago, the wholesalers was broken into.

“It would have been nice to see which vehicle [the offenders] rocked up in,” Mrs Webb said.

Without footage and evidence, they have had to let the incidents go.

She said the incidents left the bar with a negative stigma and installing cameras and a security system would make people feel safe.

“We want people to feel safe when they come in here,” Mrs Webb said.

haylee.king@whakatanebeacon.co.nz

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