A man who armed himself with weapons to rob more than $12,000 from gambling venues, and his partner who drove him to commit the crimes, have been sentenced to prison.
Robert Gordon Williams, 32, and Adele Louise Young, 35, were sentenced at the County Court of Victoria on Wednesday over their roles in the 2018 robberies at Sebastopol Bowling Club, Ararat RSL and Gisborne's Victorian Tavern.
Williams was jailed for eight years, with a minimum non-parole period of five years and eight months. His partner received three years and four months' imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 20 months.
Judge Kevin Doyle said the pair targeted gaming venues where members of the public were present, the robberies were pre-planned, a weapon was produced to instill fear and threatening behaviour was used.
He said none of the victims, which included employees and members of the public, had provided statements outlining the impact of the crimes but the incidents would have created fear.
"I have no doubt that people present at the time of the offences, and particularly those who had direct interaction with you Mr Williams and the other male offender, would have been in fear during the offences. This was self-evidently very serious offending," Judge Doyle said.
He said Williams was the main offender and Young was brought into the robberies but her role as the getaway driver was "integral" to the offending. The judge said Young would not have offended in the way she did if she was acting alone.
Your role as the driver was integral to the offending.Judge Kevin Doyle
In the first incident on October 21, 2018, Young drove Williams to Ararat from their home in Melton West where Williams entered the Ararat RSL soon after 12.30am wearing sunglasses, gloves and a bandana around his face and armed with a jemmy bar.
Williams approached the gaming counter and threatened staff with the jemmy bar before fleeing with more than $7500 in cash to the car driven by Young.
Eight days later on October 29, Young drove Williams to the Sebastopol Bowling Club and later collected another man from his home nearby.
Young then drove Williams and the third accused to a street near to the bowling club where the two men entered about 11.50pm. Williams had pulled his hood over his head, cloth wrapped over his face and armed himself with a wrecking bar.
He removed cash from the gaming counter and fled with $5300 back to the car and Young drove them away.
On November 18, Young drove Williams to Sebastopol where they picked up a third accused before driving to the Ararat RSL.
Williams entered the RSL with a hood over his head and a black cloth over his face, carrying a metal pole wrapped in grey cloth meant to look like a firearm and approached the bar and gaming area.
He pointed the imitation firearm and yelled 'empty the drawers, all of it' and held the imitation firearm to the neck of a staff member as he unloaded the cash drawer. They fled the scene in Young's car.
Williams pleaded guilty to three charges of armed robbery and one charge of attempted armed robbery. Young pleaded guilty to two charges of assisting an offender, one charge of attempted armed robbery and one charge of armed robbery.
Williams has served 555 days of his sentence through pre-sentence detention, while Young has already served 104 days of her sentence.
During the hour-long sentencing hearing where Williams and Young appeared via separate video links, Williams asked Young if she was ok and told her to control her breathing.
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.