10 February 2022

81-year-old woman terrorised, pot thrown into man's head during home invasions

| Albert McKnight
ACT Courts

John Gordon Moore was 18 when he committed the first home invasion he was recently sentenced for. Photo: Albert McKnight.

A young man has been sentenced for his involvement in two home invasions, including one where an elderly woman with health issues woke to a torch being shone into her face and another where a man was hit on the head after a ceramic pot was thrown at him.

Details of the case against John Gordon Moore are in sentencing remarks from the ACT Supreme Court released in February, although he had been sentenced in December 2021.

Chief Justice Helen Murrell said he was 18 when he donned a face covering and approached a home in Coombs while armed with a metal pry bar at about 4 am on 13 July 2020, along with three others who had a badminton racket and a long pole between them.

Their victim woke to find all four in his house, with one shining a torch into his face.

He was punched in the face and got into a struggle during which he was hit on the hip with a hard object. He discharged an “incapacitating spray” towards his attackers as he feared for his life.

“Let’s get out of here. He’s just sprayed me. He’s crazy,” one of them said and they regrouped outside.

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But the victim saw they were still hanging around his house, and when he went outside, they started throwing objects at him, with one hitting his leg. One of the accused threw a ceramic pot, hitting his head and knocking him unconscious.

The victim was taken to hospital with a 4 cm laceration on his temple that required surgery and has left a scar. He also suffered bruising and abrasions.

The co-offenders also stole $2000 in cash.

“It was a gross and terrifying invasion of privacy,” Chief Justice Murrell said.

She said while Moore was “very much involved in the offence” and the Crown Prosecution alleged he was the “ringleader”, she thought this characterisation may be unfair as he suffered from a moderate intellectual disability.

She said it was also not clear if he delivered any blows to the victim.

At about 1:30 am on 27 September 2020, Moore and three others entered an 81-year-old woman’s house in Duffy as she slept in her bedroom.

The woman’s husband had recently died and she was just coming to terms with his loss when she awoke to one of the co-offenders shining a torch on her.

The co-offender demanded she give him her handbag and car keys, as well as the PIN code to her bank cards, but she said she had Alzheimer’s and didn’t remember where she left those items.

The group searched the house, rifling through cupboards and throwing her belongings to the floor before stealing her wallet, keys and car.

“After the offenders departed, the victim waited in trepidation for about an hour because she was unsure whether the offenders were still in her house,” Chief Justice Murrell said.

“The offence was protracted. In effect, the victim was confined to her bed while a co-offender stood over her and made demands with which she was unable to comply because she suffered from memory problems, causing the co-offender to become irate.

“It would have been a truly terrifying experience for the victim.”

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While she said there was no evidence Moore was in the bedroom, he would have heard what was happening.

Moore, who was raised in Dareton in NSW and had worked as a stonemason bricklayer in Canberra, pleaded guilty to 12 charges, including aggravated burglary, recklessly inflicting actual bodily harm and theft.

Chief Justice Murrell said he “appears to be taking stock of his life” and had expressed shame.

He had been in custody since September 2020 and was sentenced to about four years’ jail, suspended from December 2021 so he could complete an 18-month Drug and Alcohol Treatment Order.

No other co-offender has been sentenced.

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