Sandringham dairy stabbing: Community group says superette turned down for fog cannons

4:19 pm on 24 November 2022
Rose Cottage Superette in Sandringham

Police outside the superette this morning. Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

The Auckland dairy where a worker was fatally stabbed wanted fog cannons and other security but was turned down, the local neighbourhood support group says.

Police launched a homicide inquiry after a worker at the Rose Cottage Superette was fatally stabbed in a robbery last night.

Officers were called to the scene near the corner of Haverstock Road and Fowlds Avenue just after 8pm.

The worker died in hospital last night.

About 100 Sandringham residents gathered near the dairy in a show of support today.

Sandringham Neighbourhood Support coordinator John McCaffery said they supported the superette owners' attempts to get more security at the shop but police turned them down.

The group was working with them to get fog cannons and other services for the dairy, he told Morning Report.

"We wrote a letter for him to approach the police, and he did that.

"We believe that twice he was visited or contacted by the police and turned down as not being a priority.

"They didn't give him the reasons but I know that everyone was really distressed that there was no support coming."

RNZ has asked police for comment. Detective Inspector Scott Beard, giving an update on the investigation today, said at this stage he was focusing in the inquiry and had not looked into the wider picture of funding for fog cannons at the dairy.

The government recently told RNZ security assessments of shops been accelerated as part of a programme of upgrades to protect stores from ram raids, using a $6 million crime prevention support fund launched by the government in May.

In late August they promised 40 to 50 assessments each week, but had done about 15 a week. An Official Information Act (OIA) response shows that as of 4 November, a total of 118 stores had been assessed.

Sandringham residents gathered at the Rose Cottage Superette where a worker was fatally stabbed on 23 November 2022,

Sandringham residents gathered near the superette on Thursday. Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

McCaffery said an added factor in the request for security was that the owners and family lived on site, he said.

The dairy sat on its own in a residential area but was on a busy main road running from Sandringham and St Lukes shopping centre through to Owairaka and Mt Roskill, he said.

He believed the family was away overseas at the time of the robbery, and someone else was working at the business.

Neighbourhood Support had worked closely with the family, helping then with cover if the owner had to leave the shop, and it was that support that had stopped other incidents, he said.

"This dairy has a history of 15 years of violence and theft and we set that out in the letter to police."

There were no community constables in the area "and that's not the way to deal with community safety", he said.

He was sure the community felt abandoned.

"We don't write letters to the police ... in the strongest possible terms if we don't think it's important."

"I'm sure the community will [get through it] but the question is will anything in terms of government or police policy change?"

McCaffery was personally very upset by the fatal attack. "It's a tragedy," he said.

The owner and family were valued members of the community. "He's a member of the Neighbourhood Support support group, he donates food and supplies for our community functions, and he's well-loved by the community as are the whole family."

Minister seeking answers on lack of fog cannon

Police have been criticised over the incident, with suggestions the business applied to get a fog cannon installed but was rejected twice.

Police Minister Chris Hipkins told reporters this afternoon he was seeking an explanation of why the business did not have a fog cannon installed.

"My first thoughts are with the victim, with the family, with the business and with the community," he said.

"It's not clear to me why the business didn't receive a fog cannon as part of the first stage of the security upgrades... that business should have qualified for that, so I've asked for an explanation as to why they didn't have a fog cannon."

He clarified the fog cannons had been installed before the current Crime Prevention Fund which was announced in May.

"There awere 1000 fog canons that were funded, they were all installed relatively quickly, and based on the information that I could see on the surface I'm not sure why this business didn't get one as part of that process."

Shop owners should not be arming themselves, he said.

"I do have a lot of sympathy for the businesses and I do understand their frustration and I understand their concern ... we do need to allow the police to do their jobs, I don't think that things like having businesses being able to defend themselves and potentially escalate these situation is going to help and potentially would put more people at risk."

He said the primary focus for police was on finding the suspect, and he would not speak about details of the case.

He also rejected the suggestion there were fewer police and less availability for communities.

"There was some positions taken five, six or more years ago around police changing the nature of the way communtiy police work - fewer local kiosks for example, more police out and about - I'm aware that that creates a visibility challenge for police but it doesn't mean there are fewer police out there.

"There are more police out there than there have ever been before."