A man brandished a shotgun as he and a woman demanded cigarettes and cash from a Benalla service station attendant last year, a court has heard.
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Natalie Pieper, 20, of Wodonga, pleaded guilty in Shepparton County Court to charges of armed robbery and theft.
The court heard Pieper and a co-accused, Tyson Smith-Anderson, held up the Woolworths Caltex service station in Bridge St East at 6.57am on January 10 last year.
Prosecutor Danielle Guesdon told the court Smith-Anderson was holding a shotgun with two hands as he demanded the female shop attendant “give me cigarettes”.
Pieper was also heard to yell out “get the money out of the register”.
The pair put the cigarettes in bags they were carrying.
A third member of the group is also believed to have been in the store at the time, with the court told another voice yelled “we gotta go, let’s go”, while a fourth person was in the car.
Pieper and Smith-Anderson escaped with $950 worth of cigarettes and cash.
The court heard the car was earlier driven to the Ampol service station in Benalla at 6.30am, before returning about 7am.
On the second occasion, the attendant at that service station noticed the vehicle had parked on the wrong side of the fuel bowser and thought those in the car were “acting dodgy”, and used the shop PA system to tell those in the car “I’m watching you, the grey Ford at pump one”, Ms Guesdon said.
The court heard that at 7.19am police saw the car at the BP service station in Glenrowan, but it left when the occupants saw police.
At 7.25am, the car was filled with $55.23 worth of fuel at the Apco service station in Wangaratta before it left without the petrol being paid for.
Ms Guesdon said when Pieper was arrested on February 24 last year, police found messages to Smith-Anderson on her phone, including one at 11.40am on the day of the armed robbery saying “do you wanna do something tonight as this morning wasn’t interesting enough apparently”, and another on January 13, 2022, saying “oi I wanna do Apco”.
In a police interview, Pieper made full admissions to the offending and said she was “under the influence of drugs at the time” and that the stolen money “went straight to a drug dealer”.
In a victim impact statement read to the court, the Benalla Woolworths Caltex attendant spoke of how the events of that morning still affected her life.
She spoke of not leaving her house for a month, and that she still got up four or five times a night to check the doors and windows were locked.
She also said she had not returned to Benalla or her job there since the armed robbery.
The worker said she was doing part-time work in a service station elsewhere but was now wary of people, where they parked and of them when they walked into the service station.
Ms Guesdon said Smith-Anderson, who was 18 at the time of the offending, had been sentenced to two years in a youth justice centre for his part in the armed robbery.
Pieper’s defence counsel Erin Byrt asked the judge for an adjournment to allow for her client to be assessed by a psychologist about trauma she experienced as a child.
The matter will return to court in August for further plea.
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