One of several men involved in a series of robberies at drinking spots across the region last year has been given a discounted jail term after agreeing to give evidence against several of his relatives who allegedly took part in the break-ins.
The 23-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was yesterday sentenced to a minimum 21 months' jail for his part in the crime spree, receiving a significant penalty reduction in exchange for testifying at upcoming trials.
Sentencing the man, Wollongong District Court judge Paul Conlon said the deal and the offender's decision to plead guilty had caused considerable "friction" with his two co-accused brothers, father and cousin and had jeopardised his safety.
The court heard some of the man's relatives had allegedly organised for him to be "bashed" in jail and he feared he would be further assaulted on his release.
Despite the risk to his personal safety, the man said he was committed to staying away from the co-accused and reconnecting with his partner and children.
Judge Conlon said the offender had given evidence to police about his involvement in the break-ins, which were carried out at several licensed premises throughout the region and targeted ATM and cigarette machines.
The court was told the offender was regularly bailed up by two of his brothers, cousin and father to go out with them and he felt compelled to attend, often receiving abusive text messages and calls if he declined.
During their drinking sessions, the family would allegedly speak about a "job" but the offender was not included in the discussion.
The court heard the offender felt forced to participate in their alleged criminal activity and was often given "odd jobs" or told to stand by and watch.
Judge Conlon yesterday accepted the man's family had had considerable control and influence over him and conceded the offender's involvement in the break-ins was not as extensive as some of the co-accused.
The offender, who pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated breaking, entering and stealing, was convicted of breaking into Gerroa Boat Fisherman's Club on February 8 and helping steal a cigarette machine from Bulli Bowling Club on February 17.
The court heard the offender was also involved in several other raids but had not entered the premises.
Judge Conlon told the court the offender was now keen to gain employment and abstain from alcohol and other drugs.
He was sentenced to a minimum 21 months behind bars and an additional 18 months on parole.