A 28-year-old man pointed a gun at four international students and demanded they give him keys to their vehicle in a "frightening" armed robbery which occurred in darkness at a remote location at the Lerderderg Gorge.
Michael Shalders had gone to the Darley location to meet his drug dealer, but when she was not there, he approached the four complainant's who had returned to their Toyota Camry following a walk at 6pm on May 21, 2018.
He spoke to the group, aged between 22 and 24, about "smoking a joint" but they advised him they did not smoke, the County Court of Victoria was told on Friday.
Crown prosecutor Andrew Grant said Shalders was wearing a dark-hooded jumper and cap when he produced a silver-coloured handgun from his pocket.
"He then pointed the handgun at the complainants and demanded they give him the keys to their vehicle. He also demanded that they hand over their mobile phones," Mr Grant said.
"The group, who were in fear, did not respond immediately. The accused then pointed the gun at (one of the victim's) forehead and demanded the keys from him."
He told the male that he did not have the keys and turned out his pockets to show him that he had nothing in his pockets.
"The accused then pointed the gun even closer to (the victim's) forehead and made further demands."
Mr Grant said another victim, the driver of the car, was afraid Shalders would shoot them and he threw his keys onto the ground, then handed over his mobile phone.
Shalders drove the Toyota Camry erratically out of the state park. Police located him two weeks later laying in a Bacchus Marsh driveway.
The court was told officers stood him up and a set of keys fell out of his pocket and police found him in possession of the victim's mobile phone. He was on bail at the time of the offending.
Defence barrister Jo Swiney said, as frightening as the incident was, her client's behaviour was spontaneous.
She said Shalders was using a substantial amount of drugs at the time, he was going to buy more drugs and he took a gun because he had been threatened previously.
Ms Swiney said Shalders had been working as a diesel mechanic when his drug use spiraled out of control. She said his supportive family tried everything to help him without success and it broke their hearts.
Ms Swiney said the armed robbery was startling in contrast to Shalders' prior offending.
"He went from a hard-working young man to a drug user," Ms Swiney said.
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Judge Martine Marich described the incident as "pretty frightening" because the incident occurred in darkness at a remote location.
"The love and support (of his family) was not enough for him to overcome his drug addiction and he raised a gun to a man's forehead in an extremely serious crime," Judge Marich said.
Shalders, of Taylors Lakes, pleaded guilty to seven charges, including armed robbery, attempted armed robbery, theft, possessing a firearm while prohibited and committing an indictable offence while on bail.
He will be sentenced in Melbourne on June 18.
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