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Man found not guilty in aggravated robbery case

Thursday 17 March 2022 | Written by Al Williams | Published in Court, National

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Man found not guilty in aggravated robbery case
Woo Store where the aggravated robbery took place. AL WILLIAMS/21013103

A man charged with aggravated robbery has been found not guilty following a three-day jury trial.

Daniel Mare appeared before Chief Justice Sir Hugh Williams in front of a jury of eight women and four men who delivered their verdict shortly after 1pm on Wednesday.

It took the jury just over an hour to reach a verdict at the High Court in Avarua.

The case centred around an aggravated robbery which took place at the Woo Store in Titikaveka, in  January last year.

The Crown argued that four men planned to rob the store.

Three men went into the store, one armed with a machete, and another armed with a baseball bat while it was alleged Mare was the getaway driver who knew what was going to happen. 

In delivering his closing address on Wednesday, defence lawyer Keykore Ahsin said more witnesses could have been called to the stand as the Crown had an opportunity to build the case.

Two witnesses who had possession of the weapons during the robbery, a baseball bat and a machete, should have been called to give evidence, he said.

“Why were they not called?”

Ahsin said his client did not know there was a plan to rob the store.

He said the Crown’s main witness, one of the three men who entered the store, did not provide consistent evidence.

Two police officers who gave evidence should have been better prepared, the defence lawyer said.

“They came to court not knowing, they are not very relevant, they haven’t proven anything.

“My client did not know, even during the robbery, he did not know.

“He was not involved in a plan, that is a crucial element, ask yourself, am I sure that he was part of this or that he knew about it, or are there a lot of question marks?”

Crown lawyer Jamie Crawford said the defendant, in giving evidence, left his address and drove to the “black market”.

“When he was pressed, his evidence didn’t make sense or add up, that’s what happens when someone lies.”

Crawford said Mare claimed his initial statement to police was a fabrication, because it had been written by a police officer, and not him.

“Police have lied under oath?

“He gave a statement that day and lied.

“It was an incredible story about police fabricating the story, it even surprised his lawyers.”

Crawford said the jury could not rely on the defendant.

“Reject the defence evidence and focus on the Crown evidence.”

She said the Crown’s main witness had changed his story because he was scared of Mare.

“He fine-tuned his evidence to support Daniel and the defence took advantage of it.

“I say he was scared in the witness box.

“There was a plan and Daniel was aware, the plan was executed, he was ready for a getaway.

“His account cannot be relied upon, he acted as a getaway.”