The Sandringham dairy involved in the alleged fatal stabbing of 34-year-old Janak Patel didn’t qualify for a Government-subsidised fog cannon because it had not experienced enough crime, the NZ Herald understands.
Patel had been managing the Rose Cottage Superette in the Auckland suburb of Sandringham when he was stabbed to death following an alleged aggravated robbery on Wednesday last week.
A 34-year-old man was arrested on Friday and charged with aggravated robbery and murder following Patel’s death. A second man, 42, was also arrested and had been charged with robbery. Both men were remanded in custody on Saturday, but the latter did appear in court today was again remanded in custody until December 14 at the Auckland High Court, when his case will be called at the same time as the man accused of murder.
A third person had also been charged with robbery and appeared in court today. The 36-year-old man was granted interim name suppression in his brief appearance. He was remanded in custody ahead of a bail hearing set down for December 5 in the Auckland District Court.
It was understood the man accused of murdering Patel had been deported from Australia earlier this year, the Herald on Sunday reported yesterday. The grounds for his deportation from Australia cannot be reported for legal reasons.
Many dairies across the country will shut their stores today for two hours to protest regarding what were considered insufficient Government measures to address crime.
A group will also assemble outside Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s electorate office in Mt Albert. The superette was within Ardern’s electorate.
It was understood Ardern would make an announcement on crime prevention measures in her post-Cabinet press conference this afternoon, after ministers were expected to discuss how appropriate current measures were.
She would also likely face questions on concerns raised by some of the country’s top public law academics who believed a recently added entrenching provision in the controversial Three Waters legislation that would require 60 per cent of MPs to overturn the provision in the future - an increase to the common threshold of 50 per cent - would set a “dangerous precedent”.
Patel, newly-married, reportedly confronted a thief who stole a cash register from the store. He was fatally stabbed outside and, while he managed to make it back to the dairy, he died from his injuries.
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Janak Patel, 34, was fatally stabbed while working at the Rose Cottage Superette in Sandringham. Photo / Supplied
Born in the Indian city of Navsari, Patel was remembered as a man with a “great love for his country and culture” in a funeral service last night. Those in attendance included Patel’s widow Vijeta, his parents, sisters and other family, as well as Ardern who had received an invitation.
MPs and former politicians - including Priyanca Radhakrishnan, Mark Mitchell, Michael Wood and Kawaljit Singh Bakshi – also attended the service, as did Detective Inspector Scott Beard who was leading the investigation into Patel’s death.
Following Patel’s death, Sandringham neighbourhood watch co-ordinator John McCaffery claimed he had been working with the superette owners since 2017 to get police to install fog cannons and other security measures, but had reportedly been turned down multiple times.
Patel and his wife relocated from Hamilton to Auckland last week to run the Sandringham dairy while its owners were overseas.
Police Minister Chris Hipkins told media on Thursday that it was “not clear” to him why the dairy wasn’t approved for a fog cannon and wanted to know why.
“Based on what I can see, that business should have qualified so I’ve asked for an explanation [from police] as to why they didn’t get a fog cannon.”
Police Minister Chris Hipkins. Photo / Mark Mitchell
The Aggravated Robbery Initiative began under the National Government in 2017 with the intent to install fog cannons in at-risk businesses to address an increase in aggravated robberies in 2016.
New funding for the initiative was announced in 2020, which had led to 1000 fog cannons being installed.
While the eligibility criteria had been expanded in 2018, a press release from then-Police Minister Stuart Nash stated determining factors included whether businesses had been previously robbed and the number of police callouts near the shop.
The Herald understood police had no record of the Rose Cottage Superette making an application to the initiative, but local officers had suggested it as a possible candidate.
A total of 14,500 businesses were considered under the criteria of a small, independent retailer. With limited funding, those businesses most at risk were given priority.
To qualify for a fog cannon, a business needed to have experienced eight instances of burglary, robbery or theft in three years among other requirements.
Police data reportedly indicated the Rose Cottage Superette had experienced one aggravated robbery in 2016 and therefore did not meet the criteria.
Data suggested the superette experienced another aggravated robbery in April 2022, but this was after the fog cannon initiative had concluded - with 1000 fog cannons installed across the country.
This year, police rolled out the Retail Crime Prevention Programme, which was intended to support small businesses impacted by ram raids after a spike earlier this year that saw a more than 500 per cent increase in that crime type compared with previous years.
The initiative was designed to help fund security measures for retailers who had experienced ram raids, however, many - including Police Minister Chris Hipkins - had been critical of its slow rollout.
It was understood the Rose Cottage Superette had not experienced a ram raid and was not eligible for the fund.
Auckland Detective Inspector Scott Beard spoke to media following the death of a dairy worker earlier this week. Photo / Jed Bradley
In the latest police update, Beard said the knife used in the stabbing and the dairy’s till had not yet been located, as well as the clothing worn by the man accused of the murder.
Beard thanked community members who had assisted police’s investigation and encouraged anyone with further information to contact police by calling 105 or the online “Update My Report” tool, quoting file number 221123/3847.
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