A man has spent more than two years in prison for robbing $5300 from the Sebastopol Bowling Club with his friend in 2018 while armed with weapons.
Justin Hastie told the security guard in the foyer of the club to turn around, then placed his left hand on the guard's left shoulder and marched him to the cash area while holding a hatchet.
There was no public in the venue about 11.50pm, near closing time, on October 29, 2018 when Hastie entered wearing gloves, a hood over his head and cloth wrapped around his face, following his co-offender Robert Williams.
Williams was holding a wrecking bar, attempted to open a locked door in the cashier area and threatened to kill the female gaming attendant.
The woman ran into the strong room and locked herself inside with her supervisor where they called police and watched Hastie and Williams on CCTV.
IN OTHER NEWS
Williams removed all cash from draws in the cashier area and they both fled the venue with $5300 and returned to their getaway car driven by Williams' partner.
In his sentencing remarks, Judge Kevin Doyle said he had no doubt the staff members in the venue at the time would have been afraid.
He said the weapons were produced to instill fear and there was pre-planning of the offending with set roles for each offender, weapons and disguises.
Hastie was arrested at his Sebastopol home on November 27, 2018.
His phone records revealed he had been in contact with Williams in the previous months and had arranged to meet on occasions.
Hastie denied committing the armed robbery during the interview and ran a two day contested committal hearing.
He pleaded guilty after his partner later told police she picked him up from the Brewery Tap Hotel on the night of the offending, asked her to bring a change of clothes and confessed to the robbery.
She told police Hastie changed his clothes and asked her to drive him to Blue Bell Hotel as he had to be seen playing the pokies there on CCTV.
She said Hastie asked her to get rid of the hatchet he held during the armed robbery and she threw it into Lake Esmond.
A police diver later found the hatchet in the lake.
Hastie appeared at the County Court of Victoria in Melbourne on Thursday via video link from custody and pleaded guilty to the charge of armed robbery.
The court heard co-offender Williams had committed two other armed robberies at similar venues.
Judge Kevin Doyle found Williams was the controlling offender and took the major role inside the premises and Hastie played a lesser but integral supporting role.
Crown prosecutor Thomas Crouch said he agreed Hastie's offending was lesser, particularly given Williams and his partner, the getaway driver, had cased out the venue before returning later to commit the armed robbery.
Defence barrister Charles Morgan said he had no instructions on what money Hastie kept from the robbery.
He said his client had issues with methamphetamine and was living in impoverished circumstances in a converted garage with his partner at the time.
"He wasn't motivated by greed or the want for a speed boat to use on Lake Wendouree, he was living in a shed with his partner who was pregnant and had a meth problem," he said.
Mr Morgan said Hastie had a disjointed upbringing, left school and home young, moved around frequently and did not see his mother for 10 years as an adolescent.
"His priors reflect the kind of bloke who was just nowhere and they start quite late in his life," he said.
The court heard Hastie had difficulty with relationships and had eight children with different partners, including one child who was born while he was in custody.
Judge Doyle said he had a guarded view on Hastie's prospects for rehabilitation given his lengthy criminal history, but he had some optimism from the efforts Hastie had made in custody.
The court heard Hastie had completed courses in engineering, COVID cleaning, commercial cleaning, traffic management and mind and body, was a peer listener to other prisoners and was in the Koori art program.
"He is vastly on the way to becoming a completely different man than the one who went in," Mr Morgan said.
"He has made real efforts to set himself up to be a more productive and useful member of society."
The court heard Hastie had been on a disability pension for 15 years and suffered a spinal injury and a painful disease.
Mr Morgan said this two year and four month period was the longest period he had spent in custody.
Judge Doyle said he took into account the fact Hastie had been in custody for the entire period of COVID-19.
He said general deterrence was a significant sentencing consideration for armed robbery cases.
Hastie was sentenced to three years and seven months' imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of two years and four months.
Judge Doyle said he would have imposed a sentence of four years and 10 months' imprisonment with a three year and six month non-parole period if not for his plea of guilty.
If you are seeing this message you are a loyal digital subscriber to The Courier, as we made this story available only to subscribers. Thank you very much for your support and allowing us to continue telling Ballarat's story. We appreciate your support of journalism in our great city.