Barman threatened in pub robbery: court

A Koonawarra man attempted to rob a Berkeley pub last week, threatening the barman at knifepoint and demanding cash, Wollongong Local Court has heard.

Aaron Frederick Dunwell is accused of holding up the Berkeley Hotel early on Friday morning, wielding a knife at a staff member before fleeing in a stolen car.

Police claim the 26-year-old entered the Devon Street hotel with an unknown man, who was armed with a metal pole, about 2.30am.

It is alleged the pair immediately ran towards the barman, catching the attention of another staff member who saw them on the hotel’s CCTV camera and quickly dialled triple-0. Dunwell then allegedly ordered the barman to ‘‘take them to the money’’ and pushed the man towards a cash register.

The staff member opened the machine and showed the pair it was empty before he tried to open a second register.

As he struggled to unlock it, Dunwell allegedly started yelling,  ‘‘It’s taking too long’’, and held the knife close to the man’s body.

Dunwell’s associate then ordered the barman to hurry up and open the other registers, the court heard.

When the pair discovered all the tills were empty, they allegedly fled the hotel and jumped into a waiting car.

About 10 minutes later, police saw the car travelling north along Springhill Road in Wollongong.

Officers pursued the vehicle, as it allegedly sped through a red light.

They later found the car abandoned in Coniston,  just minutes before they discovered Dunwell nearby.

Dunwell was arrested but denied any involvement in the robbery.

He allegedly told police he had been visiting a friend in Coniston but couldn’t provide any details.

Police searched the car and recovered a metal pole and a knife, the court heard.

Dunwell was charged with armed robbery and being carried in a stolen vehicle.

Opposing Dunwell’s bid for bail yesterday, Crown solicitor Kristy Spiers said there were real concerns for community safety.

She claimed the case against Dunwell was strong as he had been located shortly after the incident and had been wearing similar clothing as the man captured on the hotel’s CCTV footage.

Barrister Jane Healey, acting for Dunwell, said her client suffered from depression and anxiety and had been receiving treatment.

She argued the case against Dunwell was weak, noting it was entirely circumstantial.

The court heard Dunwell could live with his parents, provide a surety and would abide by a curfew. Magistrate Geraldine Beattie refused Dunwell bail and adjourned the matter to March 6.

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