THE scene is a track off Fords Road, itself a crappy little dirt thoroughfare on the wrong side of Karuah State Forest near the sleepy little hamlet of Limeburners Creek.
It is February 17, 2009 - the day after one plainclothes police officer was disarmed of his gun and two officers were sprayed in the face with their own capsicum spray as they tried to arrest a bloke at a Karuah service station.
They had their chief suspect in sight- a local lad called Nash Steven John Cobb, a then 20-year-old with a burgeoning history of violent crime and armed robberies.
Cobb was a frequent resident of the Karuah Aboriginal mission just out of town and wasn't just known for his criminal jaunts - he was also a gun Aboriginal artist.
But this time he was in the gun for the attack on the officers, and also wanted for questioning over the armed robbery of the Ayers Rock Roadhouse on the Pacific Highway, where one masked man punched a staff member repeatedly before forcing their head towards boiling oil in a fryer.
Enter respected cop and known hard bastard Jeff Farmer.
The Farmer was based up in those western Port Stephens parts and knew most, if not all, of the crooks from Raymond Terrace to Bulahdelah and beyond.
This day - February 17 - The Farmer was on the hunt for Cobb. He knew he wouldn't be too far away and he knew Cobb loved the back roads around Karuah and southern parts of the Bucketts Way.
Like Fords Road, for example.
The Farmer is on his own as he turns onto Fords Road and patrols the little dirt tracks. The sun is high in the sky and the dirt track is muddied with some recent ran.
Then his eyes widen. Suddenly, his bumper is pushing onto the bumper of another car. He stares at the eyes of the driver - it's Nash Cobb.
Cobb has always rated himself as a wannabe Bathurst 1000 type of driver. He boasts of being better behind the wheel than most, and he has got himself out his far share of tight spots with a bit of horsepower and bravado.
But he is stuck here. The Farmer isn't going anywhere, and Cobb has to think quick. They are not more than three metres away from each other when The Farmer first sees the barrel of the rifle.
Cobb puts his car into reverse and, with the rifle pointed at the copper, floors the accelerator.
But The Farmer isn't going anywhere just yet, and keeps his car onto the bumper of Cobb's as they bounce along the filthy little track.
It goes on for some time, several hundred metres possibly, with Cobb pointing the rifle with one hand and steering with the other.
Finally, Cobb crashes into a tree and he - as well as the two others in the car - jump out and flee.
But The Farmer is aware and grabs Cobb before they start wrestling about. Somehow, Cobb is able to slip out of his shirt and is gone into the bush.
The Farmer was close - both to an arrest and a body bag.
Some 11 days after the Fords Road confrontation, Cobb is found in Lightning Ride.
The cops, who had put out a public plea hunting Cobb, say they nabbed him inside a home surrounded by police.
But Cobb thought differently and told magistrate Elaine Truscott, "I turned up in a car when the police were there and told them "I'm Nash Cobb. I'm the one you want.' " He added: "The facts are bullshit," as he was led from the court.
Cobb was later sentenced to a few years in the big house for a range of violent offences and appeared to go off the radar.
FAST forward to November 30, 2012, and the friendly staff of the Mary Ellen Hotel in Merewether are madly scrubbing the last of the tables before closing its doors for the night.
A loyal base of locals are still sipping on their final schooners when several masked men, armed with machetes, storm through the Railway Street doors and start yelling and screaming.
Most of the 20-odd people comply. Most except for a leathered old tradie who wants to put the wind up these grubs.
He throws schooner glasses into concrete walls, showering the crooks below with shards of glass.
The too-ing and fro-ing continues until one of the men storm forward, crack a machete hard on a wooden bench, and threaten to hurt female bar staff.
They get away with $30,000 but not before two other patrons, who had walked outside moments before the crooks entered, realise what has happened and ring the cops.
They then chase the crooks around the corner, only for the male patron to jump for his life as the getaway vehicle is driven over a gutter and straight towards him.
One of the crooks was to later tell detectives the driver was, in fact, Karuah's own modern day Fangio, Nash Cobb.
But the crook doesn't give the evidence in court and a judge directs a jury to find Cobb not guilty of using an offensive weapon in company with intent to commit an indictable offence.
It matters little though. A host of other evidence is enough for the jury to convict Cobb of the Mary Ellen robbery.
That evidence included a phone from the same crook. On that phone is images of Cobb a few hours before the robbery.
A few little investigative tricks allows the smart Newcastle detectives to conclude that the pic was taken not long before the robbery and was taken in the vicinity of a street at Hamilton South - where the crooks were placed both before and after the stick-up.
Scrolling further down, and the cops find another image - it's the cash laid out on a lounge only 10 hours after they threatened young women with machetes. Dumb arses.
Cobb argues he wasn't at the robbery. The jury doesn't believe him and he will be sentenced in the new year.
Might be a chance for him to go back to his art for a while.
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