DETECTIVES say DNA evidence on a soft drink can, a $400 used Hyundai Elantra and a large drug debt are among the things that point to Stephen Peter Saunders being one of two armed men who stormed the Swansea Workers Club in January last year and stole $32,000.
Mr Saunders, of Pacific Highway, Marks Point, appeared in Newcastle Local Court on Wednesday via audio visual link from Parklea Correctional Centre.
The 28-year-old, who is represented by solicitor Mark Ramsland, was committed to face a trial in Newcastle District Court in relation to the armed robbery on January 8 last year, a violent home invasion at Cooks Hill in April and supplying 13.45 grams of MDA. Detectives say Mr Saunders was armed with a shortened double-barrel shotgun when he and an unknown man entered the Swansea Workers Club through an unlocked side door about 8.55pm.
The pair, disguised with balaclavas, gloves and tracksuits, confronted staff, who were closing up the bar, and customers and stole an estimated $32,000 from safes, cash registers and poker machines, according to court documents.
The armed robbers were spotted running towards Neale Lane and a police dog later tracked their scent to a point behind the club.
Police say security cameras captured footage of a light coloured Hyundai Elantra sedan being driven on Neale Lane around the time of the robbery.
And at about 5.20am the next morning, police say they recovered a beige 2002 model Hyundai Elantra on an isolated four-wheel-drive fire trail in bushland at Nords Wharf, about 10 kilometres south of the club.
The car, which had been incinerated, allegedly contained a number of items from the club, including cash boxes, and a soft drink can containing an accelerant.
A forensic examination of the soft drink can allegedly revealed a DNA match to Mr Saunders and detectives allege he bought the Elantra for $400 in a private sale about 90 minutes before the robbery.
Other alleged evidence that detectives rely on to establish Mr Saunders was involved in the armed robbery includes the discovery of a shotgun, the sale of another car and the fact that Mr Saunders’ partner was a former employee of the Swansea Workers Club.
Police also say telephone intercepts revealed Mr Saunders was allegedly involved in the ongoing supply of firearms and drugs in early 2017 and had incurred a “considerable drug debt”, which police allege was the motive for the armed robbery.
Mr Saunders will next appear in Newcastle District Court on June 27 to get a trial date.
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