George Brown
George Brown

Alleged armed robber ordered out of town

The Magistrate’s Court heard 32-year-old Rockhampton man, George Oswell Brown’s once-stable life was slowly slipping to the perils of unemployment, drugs and mental health when he allegedly decided to hold up a young Park Avenue Foodworks employee with a replica handgun in Sunday.

Facing two charges, one of enter premises with the intent to commit a crime and another for committing the robbery, the barefoot defendant appeared solemn and remorseful during the application for bail.

The court heard it was an uncharacteristic, yet brazen offence that was allegedly committed.

Mr Brown’s defence lawyer Rowan King told the court the first charge of intent to commit crime was refutable.

“It’s clear the defendant attempted to use his pay-wave function first, so to say that his intention at that stage of ­entering was for the purpose of committing a crime of stealing – it’s likely that charge has some merit of being conferenced,” he said.

As for the robbery charge, Mr King mentioned mitigating factors including the fact the defendant was courteous to the victim, and that Brown was only alleged to have stolen one packet of cigarettes.

“What is absent from this robbery apart from the implied violence of producing a replica firearm, after taking the cigarettes, he took a step away from the counter and said, “have a nice day,” he said.

“With respects to the robbery, it is a very fleeting, low-level …” Mr King said before he was cut off by Magistrate Philippa Beckinsale.

“Not for the victims involved of course,” she said.

“I do accept that but with respect for these charges, it is at the lower end,” Mr King responded while conceding the prosecution’s case was “rock solid”.

While presenting information, the prosecution argued Mr Brown had entered the store with intent due to the fact he had the replica weapon in his possession.

The court heard Brown had completed a three-year mechanical engineering degree at CQUni and a three-year fabrication apprenticeship.

Mr King also discussed a medical certificate describing Mr Brown’s current state of stress and pressure after recently losing his employment.

The court heard that dismissal was involved in a Fair Work investigation as he may have been fired due to his diagnosed depression and anxiety.

“He’s been someone who has no criminal history at the age of 32, but unfortunately, he has come into the criminal offending world with quite serious charges,” Mr King said

The supporting information for the defendant’s bail application included the fact his parents did not live in Rockhampton but rather in Tinana, near Maryborough.

Mr Brown’s defence argued if bail was granted, the defendant need not return to Rockhampton before he reappeared, even mentioning he may not have to return for further hearings.

“If we were able to get over the hurdle of granting bail, there’s a highly likely chance that he will not be welcome in Rockhampton but for court. But even court doesn’t need to be here,” he said.

The court heard Mr Brown would have farm work at his father’s property in Tinana waiting for him, while remaining under the supervision of his parents at home.

Magistrate Beckinsale agreed to the conditions of bail while giving the defendant food for thought during bail.

“Mr Brown is not an uneducated man and is someone who has been working in the work force,” she said.

“Use this time, Mr Brown, to get your head around what your mental health issues are.

“What people who brandish replica firearms need to understand … they put them through the same amount of fear as if that were an actual weapon.”

Mr Brown’s bail application was successful on the conditions he abstain from drugs or alcohol, reside at the Tinana address, report to police three times a week, not contact witnesses and not return to Rockhampton before his next court appearance.

He is due to reappear on June 24.

The court subsequently heard a third charge regarding a bong found in his possession, the day he was arrested.

He pleaded guilty, was fined $200 and ordered to forfeit the utensil with no conviction recorded.

Prosecution noted the large amount of armed robberies at the Main Street Foodworks was “of great concern” and suggested it may be a target for criminals.