Kiama robberies 'fed addictions'

A MAN toting a replica firearm held up two Kiama bakeries to fund his gambling addiction and pay off drug debts, Wollongong Local Court has heard.

Kiama Downs man Paul Dennis Russell is accused of threatening staff with a pistol and demanding cash, which was quickly spent at the nearby bowling club on booze and pokies.

Police claim Russell robbed the Kiama Pie Shop about 3.15pm on Wednesday, thrusting a pistol at the terrified shop assistant before fleeing with $450 cash.

It is alleged the 40-year-old entered the Railway Parade bakery, armed with the firearm, and waved it at the cash register.

He then placed a beanie on the counter and ordered the cashier to hand over the money.

After the assistant emptied the till, Russell allegedly fled, yelling: "sorry to do this to you".

He then drove to Kiama Bowling Club where he dumped his clothes and the pistol into a charity bin and then spent the robbery's proceeds on alcohol and poker machines, the court was told.

Russell also allegedly held up Manning Street's Sevbak Bakery on January 26, wandering into the store wearing an Australia Day bucket hat and sunglasses.

When the cashier started ringing up a bag of bread rolls, Russell allegedly lifted his T-shirt to reveal a replica pistol.

It is alleged he then ordered the scared assistant to empty the till, warning her: "I've had a really bad day, don't f--- with me, put the money in the bag."

The woman gave Russell $600 and he fled the store.

Police claim Russell then drove to the club where he drank, played the pokies and paid off debts to his drug dealer.

Russell was arrested on Wednesday and charged with two counts of armed robbery.

Opposing Russell's bid for bail yesterday, police prosecutor Rob Casey cited the strength of the case and the need to protect the community.

He conceded Russell had a limited criminal record but said the charges were serious.

Defence barrister Kelly Stares said Russell could live with his father in Kiama, report to police and provide a $10,000 surety.

She told the court Russell was no longer using drugs and had repaid all his debts.

Magistrate Geraldine Beattie refused bail and adjourned the matter to March 27.