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Armed Raiders Say `Inspired' By Cop TV Show

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Fuseworks Media

Wellington, March 27 NZPA - Four men who carried out a series of hold-ups in Waikato last year have been jailed.

Armed with knives and pistols, they terrorised service station attendants and shopkeepers in a series of robberies between May 23 and September 27.

The men targeted mainly petrol stations at night, taking cash and tobacco with some service stations reducing their night opening hours because of the robberies.

Yesterday in Hamilton District Court, Ben Newman and Isaac Ball, both 19, and Sonny Ball and Tautasi Sotogi, both 21, appeared before Judge Robert Spear for sentence after earlier pleading guilty to a total of 26 aggravated robbery charges.

Newman later told police the group's crime spree was inspired by the reality television programme Police Ten-7, the Waikato Times reported.

But show presenter Graham Bell this morning said it was "laughable" to suggest Police Ten-7 could inspire anyone to acts of crime.

"Anyone who has seen the programme and is familiar with the way we portray them (robbers) will know that explanation makes no sense whatsoever," he told the newspaper.

Newman, who was involved in nine holdups, received the longest jail term -- nine years and four months.

Sonny Ball, who claimed to be the group's leader, received eight years and eight months, while Isaac Ball was jailed for eight years and four months. Sotogi was given six years' prison. NZPA WGT mgr dj gt

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