Two men accused of robbing a Kiama shop before leading police on a high-speed chase through Nowra last November have confessed to their crimes in court.
Eathan Robert Gualdi, 18, pleaded guilty to armed robbery and knowingly being driven in a stolen car, while his getaway driver, Jake Burns, 22, pleaded guilty to charges of being an accessory after the fact to the robbery, police pursuit and driving a stolen car.
Court documents said Burns drove up to the front of Manning’s General Store in a white Subaru WRX at 2pm on November 14, parking across multiple parking bays.
Gualdi jumped out of the vehicle, ran inside and pulled out a knife on the shop attendant, demanding he hand over the cash from the register.
The cashier piled the notes and coins into a plastic bag at Gualdi’s direction.
Meantime, Burns could be heard honking the horn outside, prompting Gualdi to run back to the car.
Burns then drove the Subaru along Manning Street at speed.
Police were notified of the robbery and set up a crime scene at the location.
They also circulated a description of the stolen car on the police radio.
Around 2.30pm, a vehicle matching the description was seen on Bolong Road, Bomaderry, before being spotted again a short time later in the Nowra CBD, starting a wild chase on Berry Street.
Officers said Burns drove the vehicle on the wrong side of the road, through red lights, over raised roundabouts and at more than double the signposted speed during the chase.
The car eventually hit a log barrier and came to a stop on Greenwell Point Road. Burns and Gualdi jumped out and ran down a nearby footpath, followed by police.
The pair was arrested in the front yard of a house in Wellesley Place and taken to Nowra Police Station where a search revealed Gualdi had secreted $795 from the robbery between his buttocks.
Police also searched the now-damaged vehicle, finding the knife used in the earlier robbery along with clothing both men had been wearing at the time.
Subsequent forensic samples taken from inside the vehicle returned positive matches to the offenders, with Burns’ DNA found on the WRX’s steering wheel and Gauldi’s found on the knife, the front passenger window, fire extinguisher bolted to the passenger footwell and the white plastic shopping bag used to carry the stolen money.
Burns and Gualdi were refused bail at the time and remain behind bars ahead of their sentencing, which is expected to take place in Wollongong District Court later this year.