Ice addiction spur for robbery spree

Police set up a crime scene outside the Padman’s Corner Takeaway after an armed hold up on April 22.
Police set up a crime scene outside the Padman’s Corner Takeaway after an armed hold up on April 22.

AN addiction to the drug ice and the need for cash was the motivation for those accused of three robbery offences and breaking into the house of a Lavington woman, 79, to steal jewellery and other items.

The two men and a woman did not seek bail when they appeared in Albury Local Court yesterday where the circumstances of the three robbery in company matters and a home invasion earlier this week were outlined.

Albury man James Arthur Stevens, 27, Jamie Stephen Thorley, 31, and Culcairn woman Sarah Melissa Kent, 30, each faced three counts of robbery.

Stevens and Thorley, who has home addresses in Wagga and Doonside in Sydney, also face a charge of aggravated break and enter committing a serious indictable offence in company.

Police say Stevens has a long history of drug dependence, Thorley is severely dependent on ice and Kent, the mother of a 13-month-old child, has admitted an ice addiction.

Stevens had his head bowed, appeared lethargic and disinterested in the dock during a brief appearance in court.

The charges relate to robberies at a West Albury milk bar on April 22, a 7-Eleven shop in Sydney last Thursday and the brandishing of knives to demand money at the Springdale Heights Tavern bottle shop on Monday night.

Kent was using a Ford sedan registered in her name to allegedly transport her two armed accomplices.

Tendered police facts said Stevens and Thorley had knives when they went into the bottle shop and demanded money from a young attendant.

Closed circuit footage captured the incident and showed Thorley wearing cream coloured pants, a blue jumper with distinctive wrist band, a striped grey and black beanie and he had runners with bright pink laces.

Stevens was wearing grey tracksuit pants, a red-maroon jumper and grey beanie.

He grabbed the victim by the front of his shirt, ushered him to a cash register and it was opened.

More money was demanded and he was taken to a back room where cash was taken from a tin on a cabinet.

Thorley and Stevens fled through the car park and during the escape a bag of coins was dropped.

They stole items from a house in Klose Street in Lavington on Tuesday morning and were attempting to pawn jewellery about 3pm at Cash Converters in Wodonga when a detective became suspicious.

After their arrest it was ascertained they had been renting a room at a Wodonga motel.

Officers went there, spoke to Kent and found loose notes in a bag along with two plastic money bags containing coins.

Her car was found in High Street and it was searched at the Wodonga police station revealing a black-handled knife in a front passenger door pocket with an identical knife on the driver’s side.

Kent said she was aware what her accomplices were going to do and the money was used to pay for their motel room.

The charges against each of them have been adjourned until May 19 when they will appear through a video link from jail.

TWO men and a woman had been driving around West Albury on April 22 looking for a business to rob so they could get money for drugs, a court was told yesterday.

Culcairn woman Sarah Melissa Kent was driving her vehicle with James Arthur Stevens and Jamie Stephen Thorley as passengers.

Kent stopped her car next to a milk bar at the corner of Padman Drive and Gulson Street about 6.05pm and was seen by a witness.

Stevens and Thorley had knives and waited outside for a short time before going inside.

They entered with their faces covered and when a woman working at the shop saw them, she ran through the office and out into Gulson Street.

She passed the shop owner, told him what was happening and they both ran to a nearby house.

Stevens and Thorley grabbed two cash registers on separate counters. One contained $500 and the other held $250 in notes and coins.

They fled with the registers, put them in the car and sped off.

A witness rang Triple-0 to alert the police on behalf of the victims.

Officers quickly arrived at the shop and established a crime scene.

Kent drove to Mungabareena Reserve in East Albury where the registers were forced open and the money taken and used to purchase drugs.

Stevens and Thorley broke into the home of a woman, 79, in Klose Street at Lavington about 11.45am on Tuesday.

The woman had lived there for more than 50 years, but she had left the house and locked it to attend a golf club.

Thorley and Stevens rummaged through three bedrooms and the victim returned about 2.40pm to find the house ransacked.

Last Thursday Kent, Stevens and Thorley went to Sydney and stole $400 as well as cigarettes from a Penrith 7-Eleven store.

Kent is alleged to have gone inside and distracted the attendant until her armed accomplices arrived.

They escaped and officers were unable to find them despite using a police dog.

But what took place inside the store was captured on closed circuit footage which was later obtained by police.