19 March 2024

Gun-wielding robbers broke man's neck, assaulted boy in attempt to find non-existent $3500

| Albert McKnight
courts law

Troy Graham, 26, pleaded guilty to charges that included robbery and burglary before he was sentenced. Photo: Albert McKnight.

Under the mistaken idea that the video of money a child posted on social media meant thousands of dollars was lying around her home, gun-wielding robbers forced their way into her house, broke a man’s neck and assaulted a young boy while searching for the non-existent cash.

Troy Graham, 26, was handed a total of eight years in jail with a five-year non-parole period when he was sentenced by the ACT Supreme Court for his role, as well as a later burglary, on Tuesday (19 March).

A 14-year-old boy, who lived with his mother, father and his 13-year-old girlfriend, had been selling vapes over Snapchat when his girlfriend posted a video on his Instagram and Facebook accounts showing $3500 cash.

A co-offender, who is legally unable to be named but has already been sentenced over his role, then pretended to organise for someone to buy a vape from the boy at his home in Kambah to get his address.

In the early hours of 11 July 2022, Graham forced his way into the boy’s home with a second man and pointed a sawn-off rifle at the teenager, who ran to his parents’ bedroom while the home invaders told his girlfriend to drop her phone.

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“We want the money. Where’s the money? Give us the money now or I’ll kill youse all,” one of the home invaders told the boy’s father through the bedroom door.

“We know you’ve got $3500 here,” an intruder also said.

The pair forced their way into the bedroom and repeatedly began kicking, punching and hitting the father, including with their gun. When his wife tried to intervene, one of the men hit her in the head, too, knocking her to the ground.

The son was dragged by his hair and told to get on his knees before he felt something cold touch the back of his head.

“Where’s the money?” an intruder asked him, but he replied, “There’s nothing here”.

“It’s old videos of money that he posted,” his girlfriend told the men.

The boy was punched before the intruders discovered a firearm safe in the home and repeatedly assaulted the father before he eventually opened it for them.

They stole six rifles and shotguns before a third intruder, who also pointed a handgun at the 14-year-old, came inside and stole ammunition.

The father was taken to Canberra Hospital with a fracture to one of his neck vertebrae as well as cuts and bruising to his head and tongue.

He continues to have constant pain in his neck, cannot work properly or drive or stand for a long time. A physiotherapist thought he would make an 80 to 90 per cent recovery, which meant it was likely some effects of the violence would be long-lasting, if not permanent, Acting Justice Peter Berman said.

He said the family must have been “terrified” by the robbery, but seven days later, Graham “was at it again”.

Early in the morning of 18 July 2022, he and a baseball bat-wielding woman broke into a home in Dunlop to try and steal items but were surprised by the occupants, who got into a struggle with Graham before the pair fled.

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Graham pleaded guilty to charges that included joint commission aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary and unauthorised possession or use of more than three but less than 10 prohibited firearms over both incidents.

Acting Justice Berman also said he had been on a suspended sentence over other crimes at the time, which he had to consider when sentencing him.

He said Graham was born in Canberra and his family were “good people” so he did not have a deprived background. However, he had become addicted to drugs from a young age and regularly committed offences to obtain the illicit substances.

He was remorseful for the robbery and burglary and was able to empathise with his victims.

Graham’s sentence was backdated to account for time served and his non-parole period, meaning he is eligible to be released from custody in July 2027.

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