Getaway car set alight after newsagency theft, court told

THREE men allegedly stole a safe from a Balgownie newsagency on Wednesday morning before torching the car used in the robbery, Wollongong Local Court has heard.

Kaine Eager, Maxwell Pagett and Lachlan Alcock are accused of using a crowbar to enter the Balgownie Newsagency and then dragging the safe, containing cash, cards and stamps, out of the store.

The trio appeared in Wollongong Local Court yesterday charged with aggravated breaking and entering in company and being in a stolen car.

Eager, of Thirroul, was also charged with driving while disqualified, and damaging property and goods in custody while Alcock, of Berkeley, faces an additional count of stealing property.

Police claim a car, stolen from Patricks Auto Car holding yard in West Dapto, was spotted outside the Balgownie Road newsagency about 2.30am.

CCTV footage allegedly captured Eager, 24, Pagett, 20, and Alcock, 19, near the car before Eager walked to the front of the newsagency to keep watch.

It is alleged Pagett, of Berkeley, used a crowbar to jemmy open the door as Alcock held his legs and lifted him up.

Pagett managed to break into the store and the trio quickly ran towards the counter, the court heard.

They allegedly removed a safe, containing $770 cash, money order books, $1600 worth of stamps and bank cards, and dragged it to the front door before placing it in the stolen car.

Several hours later, the trio, along with another man who cannot be named, were allegedly spotted driving along a bush track in Horsley.

Police claim Alcock, Pagett and the other man left the car before Eager and an unknown man set it alight.

The car quickly ignited and was destroyed, the court was told.

Police later found the men waiting for a taxi in Wongawilli and they were arrested.

Opposing Pagett and Eager's applications for bail yesterday, prosecutor Sergeant Rob Casey cited the strength of the case and the need to protect the community.

Solicitor Tim McKenzie, acting for Pagett, said his client could live with his mother, provide a surety and would agree to not associate with the co-accused.

Barrister Kelly Stares, representing Eager, told the court her client had strong community ties, regular employment and could offer a $5000 surety. Alcock did not apply for bail.

Magistrate Geraldine Beattie refused all three men bail. They are set to re-appear in court on March 27.