A man and woman have been jailed for armed robbery after more than $19,000 was stolen from Mittagong RSL last year.
Stuart John Wells, 27, of Bowral, and Kristy Barbara Burke, 40, of Moss Vale, appeared before Campbelltown District Court on August 27. They had previously pleaded guilty to robbery while armed with a dangerous weapon.
Wells had also pleaded guilty to additional charges of: armed with intent to commit indictable offence, possess ammunition without holding licence, acquire prohibited firearm subject to prohibition order, possess shortened firearm without authority, and reckless grievous bodily harm.
The charges relate to a robbery with a .22 calibre shortened rifle at Mittagong RSL on August 22, 2020.
Judge Julia Baly sentenced the two offenders to jail. Wells received seven years and three months imprisonment, while Burke was sentenced to two years and five months.
The judge presented the facts of the case to the court.
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She said Burke rented a white Hilux ute using her credit card on on August 20, 2020.
Judge Baly told the court the robbery occurred two days later, when Burke drove the ute, with Wells as a passenger, to Mittagong RSL.
She said a staff member was working in the change box area within the gaming section of the club at the time of the offence. Judge Baly said at 12.55pm Wells got out of the vehicle carrying a shortened firearm and entered the club, while Burke stayed behind.
Judge Baly told the court Wells then ran through the club and pointed the gun at the staff member and said: "Give me the f****** money".
She said the victim heard the gun make a popping sound six to eight times, with the firearm held towards them.
The judge said the victim gave Wells bundles of $50 and $20 notes and the offender picked up the money "with some difficulty because he was wearing socks on his hands".
She told the court as Wells ran out of the venue a patron threw a bowl of pasta at him, as a result he dropped some money and "fumbled" to pick it back up, leaving some cash on the floor.
She said in total $19,040 was stolen. In reference to CCTV footage of the incident, previously shown in open court, Judge Baly said "what stands out is just how terrified [the victim] looks" and "patrons are seen fleeing".
The judge said Wells then returned to the ute where Burke was waiting.
She told the court that on August 29 the bodily harm offence occurred after Wells had an argument with a friend. She said that while the victim's back was turned, Wells struck them with the butt of the firearm. She said Wells then swung the gun "like a baseball bat" and hit the victim again, who sustained an open fracture to the elbow.
"This was a strange offence, there seems to be no reason for it," Judge Baly said.
Judge Baly told the court Wells was arrested at 6.15pm later that day "holding [a] duffel bag" containing: a shortened .22 calibre rifle, four rounds of ammo, $18,703 cash and clothing.
She said that on August 31, 2020 police intercepted a call between Burke and another person. The judge told the court that Burke said: "I was just in the car, it happened real quick, it was spur of the moment".
Judge Baly presented to the court that in an interview with police Burke said she was not aware the armed robbery was going to happen and was scared. She said when Wells returned from the robbery he offered Burke $2000 but she refused and took $100 instead.
She said Burke told police: "I didn't think it was going to be a f****** robbery".
"Wells is undoubtedly the principle offender," Judge Baly said.
She accepted that Burke "played a lesser role" and had "no part in the planning of the robbery".
The judge said there was some "duress involved".
The judge noted the offence was "out of character" for Burke and she was "unlikely to re-offend".
"She entered into the joint criminal enterprise at the eleventh hour."
In addition, the judge made the finding that the current "COVID situation creates additional hardship for inmates in NSW" and found special circumstances for both offenders.
She accepted Wells had committed the offence "in desperation."
"His childhood set him on a path to taking illicit drugs and committing crime and becoming incarcerated," she said.
The judge argued that while Wells was "not a good vehicle for general deterrence", specific or personal deterrence "remains an important purpose".
"The community must be protected," she said.
She argued Wells was at "high risk of re-offending" and "almost certainly institutionalised".
Wells was sentenced to an aggregate sentence of seven years and three months imprisonment, with a non-parole period of four years and eight months.
"I hope [the sentence] does not crush you, you will be in your 30s when you are released. You can still contribute to the community," Judge Baly said.
Burke was sentenced to an aggregate sentence of two years and five months imprisonment, with a non-parole period of one year and five months.
Wells received a 25 per cent discount on his sentence due to an early guilty plea. Burke had pleaded guilty on July 19, 2021 before the matter went to trial, she was given a 10 per cent discount.