Workers terrified after crims smash inside businesses

WIELDING a gun and crowbar, two robbers smashed their way into petrol stations while an accomplice waited in their getaway car.

The horrifying moments for two women and a man working late at three different petrol stations were revealed when the three robbers went before Ipswich District Court for sentence.

The frightening experience for a Toyota Corolla owner car-jacked at gun point was also detailed.

Already behind bars, and with five police officers keeping the courtroom secure, the offenders appeared in the dock before Judge Alexander Horneman-Wren SC.

Christopher John Gabriel, 26; Tylor Allen Huckel, 19; and Craig Justin Nash, 30, each pleaded guilty to their roles in the armed robberies - with 14 shared charges from a three day crime spree.

The charges include;

- armed robbery in company/with violence of car owner Taeyoon Moon in Mount Gravatt at 10.25pm on January 4, 2019;

- unlawful use of a motor vehicle (Mr Moon's Toyota Corolla);

- attempted enter of premises of a 7-Eleven petrol station at Woodridge just after midnight in the morning of January 5;

- entering premises with intent to steal at Woolworths petrol station in Hillcrest at 12.30am on January 5;

- wilful damage to the glass doors at 7-Eleven; armed robbery in company at 7-Eleven; entering premises with intent to steal Caltex Petrol Station Capalabar at 2.10am on January 5; - armed robbery in company at Capalabar;

- stealing car rego plates on January 6 at Mount Gravatt; entering premises with intent to steal from Coles petrol in Goodna at 3.10am on January 7;

- wilful damage;

- Stealing from Coles petrol at Goodna.

- Nash, who drove the stolen getaway car, also pleaded guilty to dangerous driving relating to a high speed police pursuit after the Goodna robbery at 3.30am on January 7.

Crown prosecutor Jessica Beckman said Gabriel had significant criminal history which included more than a dozen offences for stealing, more than a dozen for breaking into premises or houses, the arson of a stolen car, and attempted robbery of a service station when armed with a knife.

Gabriel served 12 months jail of a 3 ½ year jail sentence for one lot of offending and been on parole when he committed the petrol station armed robberies. He was armed with a gun, which was later found to be a replica.

Gabriel smiled from the dock as his long criminal history was detailed - causing Judge Horneman-Wren to chide him saying "he seems amused by his criminal history".

"No sensible person could be," replied Gabriel's defence barrister John McInnes.

Ms Beckman said Huckel was 18 when he took part in the robberies and was armed with a crow bar. He had no criminal history.

She said Nash had a background of driving offences and three counts of wilful damage.

Ms Beckman said the men deliberately attacked soft targets in the middle of the night.

She said Gabriel was a principal offender and began the crime spree just 17 days after being released from jail.

Crown facts showed the offending started with the armed robbery of Mr Moon as he sat in his Toyota Corolla at 10.25pm.

Gabriel opened car door and pointed a gun at Mr Moon, saying "I'm going to shoot you. Get out of the car, give me your phone and keys".

Gabriel dragged the victim from the car by his shirt and right arm. Gabriel struck Mr Moon in the back of his head and left cheek with the gun and the three robbers drove off.

The car was then used in the petrol station robberies.

Just after midnight Huckel, wielding a crow bar, was unsuccessful in breaking into the petrol station store at Woodridge although the glass doors shattered.

The men struck 30 minutes later at the petrol station in Hillcrest.

A terrified woman mopping the floor ran to the till as Gabriel and Huckel, wielding the gun and crow bar, smashed through the glass doors.

She filled a bag with money and Gabriel kicked in a door to steal cigarettes from a cupboard. A second till was raided and the woman told to empty the money into the bag.

At 2.10am the men arrived at the Capalabar Caltex petrol station where a man was mopping the floor. He ran then put up his hands when Gabriel and Huckel wielding the crow bar and gun smashed their way in.

Cash from the till was put into their bag and Huckel grabbed cigarettes. The contents of a second till was also stolen.

Gabriel pointed the gun at him and even apologised saying - "Sorry about this we're in some money troubles and we just need it".

Huckel grabbed a handful of lollies as they fled.

At 3.10am the next day the men targeted the Goodna petrol station where a female attendant saw them arrive on CCTV.

They smashed their way inside - Gabriel with the gun and Huckel using a crowbar and a hammer.

She called 000 and the two men grabbed a cash till each and fled.

Police arrived and gave chase.

The headlights were switched off and at Wacol it slowed before Nash drove it down and along the rail tracks.

The men abandoned the car and fled on foot but were chased down by officers and arrested.

The gun was found and discovered to be a replica.

Defence barrister for Nash, Clare O'Connor, said he suffers social anxiety and came from a troubled background, and at times been homeless. And been a user of the drug ice.

"It was apparently an ill-conceived way to provide money for Huckel's mother who was struggling financially and having baby," she said.

"He took part. It was not his idea but he knew what was going on."

Huckel's defence barrister Geoffrey Seaholme said while Huckel took part there was peer pressure.

"This short crime spree was somewhat of an aberration," he said.

"He has had no visitors in 13 months of custody."

Gabriel's defence barrister John McInnes said that at 26 Gabriel was at the age where he was set on the path of criminality or it was his last flare.

He while in jail, Gabriel declined to take part in a prisoner riot.

He said his deprived background was of relevance to his offending and his existing jail sentence did not end until April 26 next year.

Judge Horneman-Wren was critical of their targeting soft targets where staff often worked alone late at night and were quite vulnerable.

He said it would have been a terrifying experience for the car owner to have a gun pointed at him, and for the service station attendants to be confronted in the way they were.

Gabriel, already serving a sentence from Brisbane District Court which had to be taken into account, was sentenced to 5 ½ years jail and to lesser sentences of three years and 18 months to be served concurrent. Gabriel can begin his process for parole on April 26, 2021.

Huckel was sentenced to five years jail - to be suspended after he serve 18 months. He also received lesser (concurrent) jail terms. And is subject to a prison probation order. The court heard he had already served almost 13 months since his arrest.

Nash was sentenced to five years jail and to lesser terms. He will be eligible to apply for parole from July 6 this year (after serving 18 months).