BRENT William Henderson has been jailed for a maximum of seven years and six months for his role in a terrifying armed robbery at the Abermain Bowling Club in 2017, with a judge finding he could not be certain the 36-year-old was the intruder armed with a shortened shotgun.
The Newcastle Herald revealed last month that after a more than three-and-a-half year legal saga - a process so drawn out that it required a blanket suppression order to get it over the line and included two aborted trials, a hung-jury, two more apparent attempts to get the trial aborted and two other false starts - Henderson had been found guilty of armed robbery over the heist.
It was right on closing time on a night in June, 2017, when Henderson and Joel Shoesmith - who were armed with a sledgehammer and a shortened shotgun - smashed their way into the club. The men confronted a female staff member as she was preparing to close up for the night, forced her to the ground, tied her arms and legs with gaffer tape and ransacked the tills.
They then untied the staff member, took her to an ATM to empty the cash boxes and then forced her to open 19 poker machines.
The pair then emptied the contents of the machines into bags. In total, they stole nearly $16,000. The staff member was then tied to a table leg and the pair fled to a Nissan Pulsar, which was later found burnt out.
Shoesmith was arrested the next day, later pleaded guilty and in April, 2019, was jailed for a maximum of seven years, with a non-parole period of four years.
He will be eligible for parole in July this year.
While Henderson was arrested three months later and charged with the bowling club armed robbery as well as conspiring to rob Weston's Criterion Hotel.
After a number of faltering trials, Henderson was convicted of conspiring to rob the hotel at Weston and sentenced to two years jail, essentially time served.
He was granted bail, but charged with fresh offences and returned to custody which is where he was when he finally went to trial in January. And this time Henderson was found guilty, with a jury satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that he was the man armed with the firearm who, alongside Shoesmith, stormed the bowling club and terrorised the female staff member. But Judge Peter Whitford, SC, could not be so sure, saying in a judgment on Thursday that while it was "highly probably" that Henderson had the gun he could not be certain to the requisite standard.
Judge Whitford said Henderson's "stable, pro-social" upbringing began to unravel when two of his workmates were killed in a mining accident. Henderson was later retrenched, started using drugs and became dependent on methamphetamine.
"Life thereafter descended into drug use and criminality," Judge Whitford said.
He jailed Henderson for a maximum of seven years and six months with a non-parole period of three years and nine months.
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