Frangos home invasion: armed robbers hoped to make off with thousands

A BALLARAT family was terrorised by three masked robbers who used guns and metal pipes to demand access to a safe which they believed held hundreds of thousands of dollars, a court has heard.

James and Dianne Frangos, their daughter and her husband were confronted by the gang who burst into their Webster Street, Lake Wendouree home about 10.30pm on December 4, 2010, while another daughter and three grandchildren aged under three slept upstairs.

The Melbourne County Court this morning heard how the robbers, Kerry Francine Murrell, 46, of Footscray, her brother Lloyd Anthony Murrell, 43, of Point Cook, and their nephew Anoir Kamal Murrell, 25, of Sebastopol, allegedly threatened to cut off Mr Frangos' fingers and "smash" his skull before locking the group in an upstairs room and ransacking the home.

The three accused, who all have extensive criminal pasts, appeared together in the dock of the court for a plea hearing.

In his opening, Crown prosecutor Daniel Porceddu said the group planned the home invasion and burglary after being tipped off that the Frangos family was one of the most "loaded" in Ballarat.

Mr Porceddu told the court Llyod and Kerry Murrell went to the home of Stacy Watson, who once worked for Mr Frangos and whose mother was formerly in a relationship with Kerry Murrell, around December 2 or 3, 2010, asking "who's loaded in Daylesford?"

The court heard Ms Watson replied "everyone knows it's James and Dianne Frangos".

Tracking down the Frangos' address and storming their home on December 4, 2010, the court heard the robbers warned the family not to "try anything" before threatening to shoot them and demanding $150,000 in cash.

"We know you have it," the court heard they screamed.

The court heard Dianne Frangos opened a safe for the robbers, but it contained no money.

The group then considered going to rob the Frangos' award winning Daylesford restaurant, believing that there would be cash there.

The court heard they then locked the family in a room while they ransacked the Ballarat home, stealing jewellery and other items.

Eventually using one of the robber's metal poles to break out of the room, James Frangos ran to a neighbour's home and called police, the court heard.

Mr Poceddu said Lloyd and Kerry Murrell went back to Stacy Watson's home two days after the home invasion, furious that there had been no money in the Frangos' home.

"They had f****** nothing, Stacy," Mr Poceddu said Lloyd Murrell shouted.

"What did you tell us that for?"Lloyd and Kerry Murrell have pleaded guilty to armed robbery, while Anoir Murrell was found guilty by jury of armed robbery in December last year.

Judge Richard Maidment is expected to sentence the trio this afternoon.

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