The Offence of Robbery While Armed or In Company in New South Wales

by Ugur Nedim

It has been reported that shortly before 10pm on Wednesday, 12 August 2020, three men entered a licensed premises on Woodville Road in Villawood armed with two machetes and a sawn-off shotgun.

The trio are alleged to have approached a 31-year old employee at a cash register and demanded money.

The employee is reported to have complied and the men allegedly left the location and drove away.

Police attended a short time thereafter and established a crime scene.

According to witnesses, the first suspect is a solidly built Pacific Islander/ Maori man wearing a black hooded jumper, black face covering, black tracksuit pants and white shoes.

The second is also a solidly built Pacific Islander/ Maori wearing a black hooded jumper, red face covering and navy tracksuit pants.

The third is described as a slimly built Asian man wearing a blue hooded jumper, black face covering, grey tracksuit pants and black shoes.

The men remain at-large.

The offence of robbery while armed or in company in New South Wales

Robbery while armed or in company is an offence under section 97 of the Crimes Act 1900 which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison

To establish the offence, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that you:

  1. Were armed with an offensive weapon or instrument, or were in the company of another person or persons, and
  2. Robbed or assaulted another person with the intention to rob, or stopped any mail, person with mail, vehicle, train with the intention to rob or search.

The legislation does not define the word ‘rob’ however, the courts have found that it is where:

“the victim… [is] compelled by force or fear to submit to the theft… It is not necessary that the offender applies force… It is enough that the offender by his or her conduct…Puts the victim in fear of violence”.

‘Offensive weapon or instrument’ means:

  1. A dangerous weapon, or
  2. Anything made or adapted for offensive purposes, whether or not it is ordinarily used as a weapon or capable of causing harm.

The maximum penalty increases to 25 years in prison where you were armed with a ‘dangerous weapon’, which is:

  1. A firearm or imitation firearm
  2. A prohibited weapon, or
  3. A spear gun

A ‘firearm’ is defined as:

A gun, or other weapon, that is or was, capable of propelling a projectile by means of an explosive, and includes a blank fire firearm, or an air gun, but does not include a paintball marker.

An ‘imitation firearm’ is an object that, regardless of its colour, weight or composition, or the presence or absence of any moveable parts, substantially duplicates in appearance a firearm, but is not a firearm. It does not include an object produced and identified as a children’s toy.

Schedule 1 of the Weapons Prohibition Act 1998 contains a long list of items which constitute ‘prohibited weapons’.

These include:

  • Flick knives, ballistic knives and sheath knives
  • Star knives, butterfly knives, trench knives and push daggers
  • Bombs, grenades, rockets, missiles or anything that propels or launches a weapon
  • Anything containing or expelling an explosive, incendiary, irritant, gas or smoke
  • Spear guns less than 45cm in length
  • Crossbows and slingshots (other than children’s toys)
  • Blow-guns, blog-pipes and darts capable of being projected from them
  • Maces (other than ceremonial) and flails
  • Whips comprised partly of metal and cat-o’-nine tails
  • Nunchakus (other than children’s toys)
  • Side-handle batons (other than children’s toys), extended and telescopic batons
  • Tasers and hand-held devices that administer an electric shock
  • Knuckle-dusters, sap gloves and studded gloves
  • Pepper spray and other defence devices capable of discharging an irritant
  • Body armour vests
  • Acoustic or light-emitting devices designed to disorient or cause incapacity
  • Handcuffs (other than children’s toys or designed to be released by wearer)
  • Laser pointers with an output of more than 1 milliwatt
  • Portable tyre deflation devices, and
  • Silencers

Defences to the charge of robbery while armed or in company include:

  1. Self-defence
  2. Duress
  3. Necessity

Author

Ugur Nedim

Ugur Nedim is an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist with over 20 years of experience as a criminal defence lawyer. He is the Principal of Sydney Criminal Lawyers®.

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