A former drug addict who pointed a gun at the owner of an Albion Park Rail newsagency before assaulting him and taking off with $15,000 cash and dozens of lottery tickets has been jailed for at least three years.
Mark Sly, 42, had just scored some heroin when he held up the Princes Highway store, confronting the 31-year-old owner with a firearm before hitting the man on the back of the head and threatening to shoot him.
Sentencing Sly to an overall 5½ years' jail yesterday, Wollongong District Court Judge Paul Conlon said relaying the facts of the offence was enough to convey its extreme seriousness.
"The victim can only be described as vulnerable; he was in the course of opening his shop when he was approached by [a man] in a balaclava holding a firearm . . . it must have been a terrifying experience," he said.
The store owner was carrying bundles of newspapers at the back of his shop about 6am on December 7 last year when Sly entered the store, pointed a gun at his head and ordered him into the corner.
Sly then signalled for two unidentified co-offenders to enter, warning the victim: "Turn around [and] I'll shoot you."
Sly demanded the owner open the safe, removing large amounts of cash and scratchies before pocketing the safe keys.
The trio then bound the victim's hands and feet with electrical cord before fleeing the premises.
A vehicle seen leaving the vicinity shortly after the robbery was later located and Sly's DNA was found inside.
Three days later, police tracked another car, registered to Sly, and located the gun and several lotto tickets.
The cash, which was later split between the three offenders, was never recovered.
Sly, from the Sydney suburb of Ingleburn, pleaded guilty to armed robbery earlier this year.
Judge Conlon told the court Sly's motivation for the offence was his total relapse into drug abuse.
Defence solicitor Greg West said Sly had not planned to commit the robbery, merely visiting the region to buy drugs.
Mr West conceded his client had spent long periods of time in jail, but said Sly had managed to stay off drugs, maintain accommodation and see his children during a recent stint outside custody.
The court heard Sly was keen to undertake drug rehabilitation and reconnect with his family.
Sly was sentenced to a minimum three years' jail.