PLAGUED by a “powerful” ice addiction, Benjamin Thomas Rae says he was promised $200 if he went to Kennards Self Storage at Newcastle West, rented the cheapest locker available and provided his unique PIN number to a gang of thieves who used it to pull off the biggest firearm heist in the Hunter’s history.
Benjamin Rae, now 35, was on Friday jailed for a maximum of four-and-a-half years, with a non-parole period of three years after he pleaded guilty to accessory before the fact to aggravated break and enter and commit serious indictable offence.
His younger brother, Michael Rae, 32, has pleaded not guilty to the same charge and will face a trial in Newcastle District Court in December. Youngest brother, Joshua Rae, 30, will appear in Newcastle Local Court next month after he was allegedly found with six firearm bolts stolen during the heist.
Police allege that Michael Rae asked if he could inspect and measure a locker and when the staff member took him to the secure area he was able to watch him enter the PIN number.
A few hours later Benjamin Rae came into Kennards to ask about leasing the smallest, cheapest locker they had available.
He provided a fake name, coughed up $21 for a 1m x 1m space and was given a unique six digit PIN number allowing him 24/7 access into the facility.
About 9.46pm that day the PIN number provided to Benjamin Rae was used to access the Kennards loading dock.
Two people, with their faces covered, emerged from a vehicle, while a third person drove a white sedan.
Three minutes later, the Kennards’ employee’s PIN number was used to access the firearm storage section and thieves cut the padlocks to 20 safes and carried the 39 firearms out to the waiting car.
Joshua Rae was arrested the following night and allegedly found with some of the items stolen during the heist.
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