Men jailed over plan to rob JD's Sports Bar of $400,000

THE mastermind behind a brazen plot to use guns and hand ties to rob Ballarat pub staff of their Melbourne Cup day takings has been jailed for 14 years.

Career criminal Lloyd Murrell, 42, of Point Cook, conspired with three other men to storm JD's Sports Bar in Lydiard Street North with various weapons and rob the venue of at least $400,000 on November 2, 2011.

One of his his co-accused, Nono Ngaa, 32, also of Point Cook, has been jailed for 8.5 years.

The pair, who pleaded guilty to a string of charges including conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, aggravated burglary and possessing a prohibited weapon without excuse, were sentenced in the County Court in Melbourne this morning.

The group was rammed by police and arrested at gunpoint the day after the 2011 Melbourne Cup while on their way to rob the pub of its Cup day TAB takings.

Judge Tony Howard said the group meticulously planned the armed robbery, believing Ballarat would be a prime target for such a crime after assuming local police would be in Melbourne for the spring racing carnival.

Judge Howard said the group stole a car from the Ballarat Railway Station on the morning of the attempted armed robbery, before parking it out the front of JD's Sports Bar to use as a getaway car.

The court heard police became aware of the conspiracy through surveillance on Murrell, and ambushed the group in Geelong Road, Canadian, as they drove in a convoy towards the bar in Lydiard Street North.

Judge Howard said Murrell had travelled to Ballarat on October 30, 2011, to inspect the pub, walking through the building and scoping out staff.

"You were going to commit the armed robbery in broad daylight, in a main street of a busy regional centre"

The court heard the group planned to tie up the manager of venue and use the pistol, if needed.

"This was well-planned and audacious criminality," Judge Howard said.

"Everything had been done, but for the commission of the robbery.

"You were going to commit the armed robbery in broad daylight, in a main street of a busy regional centre. It was brazen conduct indeed."

Murrell and Ngaa were also sentenced for other offences including an aggravated burglary in Sunshine in which they threatened two children at gun point while they stole items from within the home. 

Judge Howard said Murrrell had a "very bad" criminal history dating back to 1988 and had been released from a New South Wales prison in 2011 after serving a 13-year jail term for several armed robberies, aggravated burglaries and thefts.

The court heard until this offending Ngaa had no criminal history. 

Murrell will be eligible for parole in 10.5 years. He has already served 777 days in custody.

Ngaa will be eligible for parole in 5.5 years, after having also been in custody for 777 days.

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