By Sonia Hickey and Ugur Nedim
Police are calling for assistance after a trio of armed robbers in Aberdare, near Cessnock, had their plans foiled by flying packs of red frogs.
The attendant sensed something was wrong when the trio drove into the service station and left their car idling close by the shop door, with a driver behind the wheel.
His concern materialised when a when a masked man emerged from the car carrying a metal baton.
Two of the thieves attended to carry out the heist – but the young employee’s quick wit and pinpoint throwing accuracy would ensure this did not occur.
Security footage shows that once the clerk realised something was amiss, he grabbed his weapon of choice – a bag of sweets – and threw it hard, hitting one of the men in the mid-section.
He then reloaded – picking up more bags and winding up for the kill.
Instantly, the thief changed his mind and almost knocked heads with his accomplice as they scrambled out the door and into the waiting vehicle before speeding off.
The whole incident was captured on CCTV footage,
Businesses need to be vigilant
Central Coast Police have praised the fast actions of the petrol station clerk, urging businesses to be more vigilant about unusual or suspicious behaviour, especially as the silly season revs into gear.
Crime Stoppers is calling for anyone with information about the Aberdare attempted robbery to come forward.
However, this may not be easy unless the offenders were foolish enough to tell others about their failed enterprise. Police say the first offender was wearing a black balaclava, black jumper, track pants with two stripes down the side and black socks.
The second also had his face concealed by a black balaclava. He was wearing a grey jumper with black and teal sleeves, grey gloves and of course pink socks.
They fled in a black Hyundai.
Robbery offences in NSW
Sections 94 to 98 of the NSW Crimes Act (the Act) set out a number of robbery offences.
In order to achieve a conviction for robbery, the prosecution must prove three elements beyond reasonable doubt that:
- An intention to steal,
- Some degree of threat or force putting the victim in fear, and
- A taking from the person.
A person may be guilty of a robbery offence even if the attempt is not successful.
Section 94 of the Act prescribes a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment for anyone who ‘robs or assaults with intent to rob any person, steals any chattel, money or valuable security from the person’.
Section 95 sets a maximum penalty of 20 years for anyone who commits the above offence in ‘circumstances of aggravation’; in other words, where the offence involves:
- The use of corporal violence,
- The intentional or reckless infliction of actual bodily harm, or
- The deprivation of liberty.
Section 96 imposes a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment in cases where the robbery involves any wounding or the infliction of grievous bodily harm. A ‘wounding’ is where both layers of the skin are broken.
Section 97 contains the offences of ‘armed robbery’ and ‘robbery in company’. Armed robbery is where an offender possesses ‘an offensive weapon or instrument’ while ‘in company’ means with at least one other person. The maximum penalty is 20 years in prison, or 25 years if at least one of the offenders is armed with a ‘dangerous weapon’.
Finally, section 98 says that anyone ‘armed with an offensive weapon, or instrument, or being in company with another person, robs, or assaults with intent to rob, any person, and immediately before, or at the time of, or immediately after, such robbery, or assault, wounds, or inflicts grievous bodily harm upon, such person, shall be liable to imprisonment for 25 years.’
Robbery charges may also come with ‘standard non parole periods’ – which are guideposts or reference points for judges when they are imposing the minimum time an offender must spend behind bars.
Section 97 has additionally been the subject of a ‘guideline judgement’ which seeks to ensure consistency in sentencing, and avoid the situation where some offenders get off too lightly for what is considered to be a very serious criminal offence.