It took investigators 19 months to bust the final accomplice involved in a horrific break-in resulting in the theft of half-a-million dollars worth of rare opals - despite him working directly opposite the scene of the crime in the months after.
Berkeley construction worker David Robert Kominkovski remained at large until his arrest in September last year.
He suspected his undoing came after co-offender Clayton Love "ratted" him out to police in a bid to lessen his own sentence.
"I swear if he (Love) opened his mouth ... he was the c--- who made me go," Kominkovski was heard saying in a tapped phone call with another co-offender.
He remains on bail while he completes a drug rehabilitation program.
The quartet forced their way into the home, held a man and woman up at gunpoint and stole more than 1000 opals in a swift two-minute operation.
Their arrival and departure was caught on CCTV footage.
The owner said the collection included opal roughs, opal rubs, fossils and polished stones, the most valuable of which were worth between $5,000 and $10,000 - with the total collection worth about $500,000.
Defence lawyer Matt Ward said the details in the evidence were scant as to Kominkovski's actual role in the robbery, adding he wasn't armed during the ordeal.
The robbers eventually all came undone after detectives began tapping their phone calls, in which they were heard discussing the sale of the gems.
In March 2021, police started tapping Kominkovski's mobile phone, uncovering a text message from an associate, reading, "I need to ask you about a stone you gave J. How much did you get for it? Do you remember Dave?"
Meanwhile, police seized 90 of the rare gems when they were en route to Love and Alcock's homes via Australia Post.
Kominkovski was heard in a call with a co-accused mentioning cards he received from robbery squad detectievs, speculating that he'd been "ratted out" by his co-offenders.
He told the co-accused to keep his lips sealed and said he "didn't even get one opal" from the incident.
Kominkovski also mentioned he was working at a site directly across the road from where the crime was committed.
He was arrested on September 24 last year.
Mr Ward said Kominkovki accepted full-time custody is a likely outcome, but argued his co-offender's criminal records were significantly worse than his.
"(Kominkovski) has the record of a drug addict," Mr Ward said.
The court heard Kominkovski has remained at a drug rehabilitation facility since he was granted bail in October last year.
A letter from the facility was tendered showing Kominkovski was progressing positively in the program, with Magistrate Claire Girotto allowing him to be sentenced after he completes it.
"His record is all about drugs, but he's doing very well in (the program) ... and it will impact the sentence," she said.
Kominkovski will face Wollongong District Court on June 2 where he will receive his date for sentence.
Read more Illawarra court and crime stories here.