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Auckland dairy murder: Frederick Hobson sentenced for murder of Sandringham shopkeeper Janak Patel

Hobson, in a letter read aloud by his lawyer, did not disagree.

“I apologize wholeheartedly for my despicable behavior,” the defendant said.

“I admit that I am a coward and a petty criminal, to say the least, with a drug addiction and no respect for the law.

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“My actions have consequences and that is something I will face on judgment day.”

He was joined in the dock by co-accused Shane Henry Tane, 44, who was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for aggravated robbery.

Tane had previously been charged with murder, but was not present when Patel was stabbed, so he was allowed to plead guilty to a lesser charge.

Authorities said the duo attacked the Rose Cottage Superette, a family-run, pink-painted neighborhood icon in Sandringham, in November 2022.

The 34-year-old victim had moved just days earlier from Hamilton with his new wife to look after the business while its owners were abroad. Like Hobson, she had arrived in New Zealand just a few months earlier, albeit in much happier circumstances.

Having been given a new position of trust, a possible step forward in his dream of one day running his own business, Patel decided not to back down when Hobson, dressed in a black scarf, ran in with a knife.

“Mr. Hobson ran behind the superette counter, pushing his way through two closed wooden panels, and approached the cash register,” court documents state, explaining that the victim’s wife was at the front of the store and ran to the back room in retreat.

Janak Patel.  Photo / Supplied
Janak Patel. Photo / Supplied

“Mr Patel then emerged and was confronted… by Mr Hobson holding the knife towards him in his right hand, causing Mr Patel to retreat to the room from which he had come.”

In addition to picking up the entire cash register, Hobson appeared to grab nearby items, including butane lighters and vaporizers, before leaving.

It was “shocking”, the judge said today, how Hobson appeared to have almost been “strolling” calmly down the street when Patel came out of the shop with a hockey stick, chasing him.

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About 150 meters from the dairy, Hobson transferred the cash register to a wheeled recycling bin that had been left on the sidewalk before continuing to walk away with the bin in tow.

But when he heard the merchant approaching, he put the container aside, covered his face with his handkerchief, and picked up a large tree branch.

“Mr Hobson…then turned around and aggressively advanced towards Mr Patel holding a sharp knife and a tree branch in his right hand,” court documents state.

“Mr Patel moved away from Mr Hobson and then advanced towards Mr Hobson, shouting and swinging the hockey stick forcefully at Mr Hobson on three occasions, causing Mr Hobson to step back to avoid being struck by the hockey stick. hockey, which created distance between the couple.

Frederick Hobson has been sentenced after admitting killing Sandringham dairy worker Janak Patel.  Photo / Michael Craig
Frederick Hobson has been sentenced after admitting killing Sandringham dairy worker Janak Patel. Photo / Michael Craig

“Mr Hobson waited for Mr Patel to swing the hockey stick again, dropped the tree branch and lunged at Mr Patel with the knife, pushing him to the ground face up.”

Hobson knelt on the vulnerable dairy worker, held him down with his left hand and stabbed him several times in succession with his right.

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Despite the injuries, Patel continued to fight and managed to get to his feet while fighting with Hobson for the hockey stick.

While both men held the object, Hobson stabbed Patel three more times.

“The final blow was to Mr. Patel’s neck, causing him to fall to the ground once again,” court documents state.

“At this point, Mr Patel walked around the wheelie bin in an attempt to get away from Mr Hobson.

“Mr Hobson approached Mr Patel once again and attempted to stab him again. “Mr Patel managed to free himself from Mr Hobson’s grip and ran towards the Rose Cottage Superette before collapsing after taking five steps.”

Hobson then turned around, picked up the wheelie bin again “and continued walking casually” away from the scene.

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Patel was remembered today as a quiet, humble and kind family man who lived his dream of starting a “new and exciting”, fairytale-like life in New Zealand.

His family had arrived just days earlier in New Zealand for what was supposed to be the “trip of a lifetime.”

“They killed him for a few dollars,” his younger sister said in a written statement, explaining that Patel would have been so insistent on getting the box back because it didn’t belong to him and he would have felt dishonored for not doing so. have enough money to compensate its owner.

The sister, who operates her own dairy in Hamilton, said the violent death shattered her faith in people being basically decent.

“My trust has been stolen, as has my beautiful world,” he said, explaining that he now lives in constant fear. “How could this happen in New Zealand, our safe place?”

The Crown read aloud most of the victim impact statements, including those from both of his parents. Her widow, however, submitted a statement directly to the judge in which she asked that it not be read aloud in court.

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“She has been wounded in a way that will leave scars for life,” the judge said in the statement. “She described how her world had collapsed.”

Patel’s death sparked cries from small business owners and employees for the government to step up its efforts to combat crime, after what many said had been years of feeling increasingly less secure in their jobs.

Left to right: Co-accused Henry Fred, Shane Henry Tane and Frederick Gilbert Hobson appear at the High Court in Auckland following the death of Sandringham dairy worker Janak Patel.  Photo / Michael Craig
Left to right: Co-accused Henry Fred, Shane Henry Tane and Frederick Gilbert Hobson appear at the High Court in Auckland following the death of Sandringham dairy worker Janak Patel. Photo / Michael Craig

Hundreds of people attended vigils and small business owners temporarily closed their doors across the country in a protest organized to highlight what has been perceived as the growing danger of operating a dairy in New Zealand.

His funeral was attended by then Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and MP Mark Mitchell, who currently serves as Police Minister under National’s coalition government.

“She was very kind and friendly,” Patel’s sister recalled of Ardern’s visit to the family at their home. “We cry together.”

A third alleged co-defendant, Henry Fred, 38, accused of being the getaway driver, was also charged with murder as a party, but the Attorney General agreed not to prosecute the case after it was revealed that he was terminally ill. disease.

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MORE TO COME

Craig Kapitan is an Auckland-based journalist covering courts and justice. He joined the Herald in 2021 and has reported on courts since 2002 in three newsrooms in the United States and New Zealand.

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