A Illawarra man who carried out a string of armed robberies on pharmacies was looking to score prescription medication to feed his drug addiction, a court has heard.
Peter Kucera yesterday admitted to using a knife to hold up three different Illawarra pharmacies, two of which he robbed twice, in June and July this year.
In four of the five crimes, Kucera grabbed hold of customers waiting at the dispensary for their prescription and threatened to harm them if staff did not comply with his demands.
In each case, Kucera told staff to hand over boxes of either Ritalin, used to treat attention deficit disorder (ADD), or the pain reliever OxyContin, before fleeing out of the store with the goods.
Kucera pleaded guilty in Wollongong Local Court yesterday to four charges of armed robbery and one charge of robbery.
A set of police facts tendered to the court said Kucera first struck at Andrews Pharmacy at Mt Warrigal on June 4, demanding the female attendant give him a box of Ritalin.
Fearing Kucera was armed, the woman handed the box over and Kucera fled the store.
Later that month Kucera held up the Oak Flats Pharmacy, grabbing a female customer around the neck and holding a knife to her throat while ordering staff to hand over OxyContin.
On the morning of July 4, Kucera robbed Albion Park Rail pharmacy Jim Giles Chemist, making off with two boxes of Ritalin after again threatening to "cut" an elderly customer if staff didn't hand over the drugs.
Five days later he returned to the same store and robbed it again, this time making off with one box of Ritalin.
On July 16, Kucera entered the Oak Flats Pharmacy, taking an 86-year-old woman in a headlock and pointing his knife towards her face, saying "give me two boxes of Ritalin ... now. Hurry up."
Kucera ran from the store with the goods, however the store owner chased him, and managed to see the 53-year-old turning into Ayers Lane.
An employee contacted police, while the store owner got in his car and followed Kucera, who walked along Griffith Street and then turned into Lemington Road, where he was eventually apprehended by police.
The police facts said arresting officers confiscated the drugs from Kucera, however when he arrived at the police station he told them he'd hidden a packet of Ritalin in his underwear, and had taken 22 pills while in transit.
Kucera was taken to Shellharbour Hospital as a precaution but released later the same evening into police custody.
Kucera told officers he had an addiction to Ritalin and had injected the drug to give him a similar affect to that of amphetamine.