Michael Hill smash-and-grab robber sent to prison for two years

By Hannah Bartlett, Open Justice reporter of

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A judge reluctantly sent a young offender to prison following a smash and grab of a jewellery store, but told him, “we’re not giving up on you”.

Cypris Buchanan, who was 17 at the time of the offending, was sentenced to two years and four months’ imprisonment after an aggravated robbery of a Michael Hill jewellery store in Tauranga.

Judge Melinda Mason said it was unfortunate the final sentence for Buchanan, after she had applied appropriate discounts, wasn’t in the two-year threshold where it could be served as home detention.

“I think you have got some really good potential when you are in a controlled environment, and you are very bright, and that you have got some good prospects,” she said.

“While we cannot give you home detention, I do hope that you continue to take advantage of courses that are available in the prison context because we are not giving up on you, this is just how it is.”

The teen had been serving a sentence of home detention when he stole a car and took part in an aggravated robbery at the Bayfair Shopping Centre store in late January 2024.

Two cars were stolen, and the group he was with were disguised when they went into the mall wearing face masks with hoods, gloves and sunglasses. Buchanan was armed with a hammer and was carrying a bag to put stolen jewellery in.

As the group entered Michael Hill one of the others threatened the security guard by walking aggressively towards him holding up a screwdriver. The group then smashed glass cabinets with weapons and put stolen jewellery into bags they were carrying.

One of them held up a knife threateningly as he went towards two elderly female staff members at the front counter, while Buchanan smashed the front counter’s glass cabinet and took more jewellery.

The stolen jewellery was worth $274,955.

The group then went back to the stolen vehicle and sped out of the Bayfair carpark, nearly colliding with two other vehicles and a man on a bike.

They switched to the other vehicle they had earlier stolen, which they had left on a nearby street, and were later tracked by police to the Parkvale area of Tauranga.

Police tried to stop the car but it kept going, and officers didn’t pursue it.

The police, with the aid of a police dog, later tracked the offenders.

Buchanan pleaded guilty to his role in the offending.

In considering his sentence, Judge Mason heard from Buchanan’s lawyer about the “considerable difficulties” in his background and the circumstances leading up to the incident.

He had been raised in a house where there was drug and alcohol abuse, violence, and gang life.

Reports provided to the judge indicated Buchanan was bright when he was engaged, and had been doing well in the school environment with a natural aptitude for sport.

He had also been doing well in home detention until his mentor, for reasons not related to Buchanan, had to leave.

The judge adopted a starting point of six years’ imprisonment. She applied a 25 percent discount for an early guilty plea and a further 20 percent for his young age, given the prospects for rehabilitation. He was given a further 5 percent for his remorse.

He was also given a 10 percent discount for his background.

“That is the one about your childhood and how really when someone in your situation as a child does not know any different, then it is more likely that you are going to offend in the ways that you have than someone who did have a lot more support in their childhood.”

He received an uplift of three months for offending while on home detention.

“That is counted because you were doing really well when you had that support and that you really did fall away when that support was taken from you, but of course it is offending while you were on home detention and that uplift must be made,” Judge Mason said.

That uplift was effectively cancelled out by another discount he received.

This story originally appeared in the New Zealand Herald.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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