The masked criminal who robbed the Hazelbrook Bowling Club in May last year, stealing $10,000 and terrorising staff and patrons for five hours with a tomahawk and a sawn-off shotgun, had held up the club twice previously and had just been released from jail a fortnight before the robbery.
Wearing balaclavas and carrying the axe and sawn-off pump action .22 Winchester rifle, Paul Goodfellow, 45, and co-offender Maxwell Derek Garnett, 29, both of Vincentia Avenue in South Nowra, on the NSW South Coast, committed the armed robbery on May 4, 2013, but appeared last Friday before Judge Deborah Payne in Parramatta District Court who was hearing final submissions on their behalf.
A fact sheet tendered to the court said the pair had kidnapped 63-year-old greenkeeper Les Brett, forcing him to open the club in the early hours, after lying in wait for an hour for him to arrive.
"The accused walked Mr Brett to the clubhouse and threatened that he would be shot if he turned around to look at him and didn't act normal," the facts read. "He was told to turn off the alarm. Mr Brett then opened up the bar and the back room."
Police said Mr Brett was also a victim of the 2001 robbery at the club in Bonnie View Avenue by Goodfellow in a similar modus operandi. Goodfellow, who had travelled around as a child, spent some of a "dysfunctional" childhood in the Mid Mountains and ended up being sentenced in Katoomba Local Court to spend a year in Cobham Juvenile Justice Centre.
Appealing for leniency in sentencing Goodfellow, legal aid lawyer Peter Guirguis said there was an "absence of physical injuries [of the victims], he [Goodfellow] had not discharged the firearm and indeed the firearm was not loaded... and the execution and planning was unsophisticated".
"In my submission the offence falls at the lower end of the middle range of objective seriousness."
Earlier the court heard the younger co-offender Garnett - "a follower not a leader" - had been "affected by ice or meth" and "woke up in bushland in Nowra with very little knowledge of what he did". But Judge Payne reminded the court that new one-punch sentencing laws meant that self-induced intoxication could not be taken as a mitigating factor, Garnett having pleaded guilty after the new law came in, in January.
Both offenders have been in custody since their arrest by State Crime Command's Robbery and Serious Crime Squad in June last year, where detectives found the shotgun hiding under a mattress at the mens home.
The weight of damning CCTV and DNA evidence and the distinctive neck tattoos seen by the victims, saw Goodfellow change his plea to guilty earlier this year.
Goodfellow has pleaded guilty to detain for advantage, robbery whilst armed with a dangerous weapon and possessing a prohibited firearm. Two other charges being taken into consideration when sentencing are possessing means of disguising face with intent to commit an indictable offence and taking a motor vehicle with assault. Maxwell Garnett has pleaded guilty on just one charge - robbery whilst armed with a dangerous weapon. Neither offender had family or friends supporting them in court.
Police said Goodfellow had previously robbed the club once in the '90s and again in 2001, as well as the most recent occasion.
The court heard the offenders lay in wait from 7am until 11am, rubbing off their fingerprints with Windex and drinking coke from the bar, until another employee, Sharon Snelling, arrived with the keys to the safe.
The court was told as the employees arrived as about 11.05am they were confronted by the two men.
"All of the victims, except Sharon Snelling, were forced to crawl to the poker machine area where they were told to lie down on the floor where the co-accused [Garnett] stood guard over them with a yellow axe. Ms Snelling was visibly upset during this time, crying openly."
Seven people were held hostage during the ordeal and the duo later fled the scene in the greenkeeper's car with takings from the safe, poker machines, Keno and the ATM.
Police facts said Garnett was being tracked by his mobile phone as part of his parole order and was picked up via mobile phone towers in the area where he was also captured by CCTV purchasing petrol in Winmalee with Goodfellow, 30 minutes after the robbery.
But the critical evidence came from the haul the criminal masterminds threw away on a fire trail at Warragamba on their way back down the coast: 14 cash boxes, the club's CCTV hard drive, two balaclavas and petrol receipts were found by a man walking his dog. Forensic examination found the offenders' DNA on the items.
The court heard Goodfellow had just been released from jail on April 23 - two weeks before the robbery - after serving 12 months for unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition.
At the time of the robbery, the club's office manager, Marlene Hay said they were "absolutely revolted" by the offence. The greenkeeper has since retired and will not speak about the robberies but in a victim impact statement to the court, Ms Snelling said she had had to quit her 25-year career in the club industry, had counselling and medication and the event had also put financial strain on her marriage.
"I had flashbacks to the event, including the sound of the two mens voices and also their smell, which sent me into a panic. I no longer feel like the person I was."
The men will be sentenced in September.