5 April 2024

Robber steals deodorant, bin bags in Coles; co-accused allegedly poured detergent into staff member's eyes

| Albert McKnight
ACT Court building

An 18-year-old was granted bail after he pleaded guilty to a robbery charge by joint commission. Photo: Albert McKnight.

A teenager has admitted stealing deodorant and plastic bin bags from a supermarket before his co-accused allegedly dumped detergent over the face of the staff member trying to follow him out of the store.

The 18-year-old, who is currently unnamed for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to a charge of robbery by joint commission over the incident from 28 November 2023.

He and his co-accused went into the Coles at Wanniassa, where he started putting Rexona deodorant cans in his pants and bag before a supermarket staff member started filming them with her mobile phone.

She started arguing with him, and he tried to walk out of the exit while telling her to “f-k off” and verbally abusing her. He also turned to her and aggressively gestured at her several times.

The staff member continued to film him while he grabbed a packet of bin bags and put them in his pocket.

As he was leaving through the self-serve checkout, his co-accused allegedly poured liquid detergent over the staff member’s head and face, which temporarily blinded her.

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The pair left the supermarket and the staff member received first aid from her co-workers. She was highly distressed, her eyes were in pain and stinging, and she couldn’t open them properly.

Police arrived and allegedly immediately recognised both the teenager and the co-accused on the video the staff member had taken.

The 18-year-old, who has been in custody for a month, applied to be granted bail on his robbery charge and unrelated matters in the ACT Magistrates Court on Thursday (4 April). The prosecution opposed this application.

His lawyer, Natasha Goode from Peter Agoth & Associates, said he feared for his safety in jail as he claimed he had been assaulted a couple of times but was too afraid to report the alleged perpetrators.

“That is part of the prison code, in which you don’t name people,” Magistrate Jane Campbell said.

At one point, the teenager chimed in himself. When talking about his time in custody, he said, “I hate it”.

“I don’t want to go back.”

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Ms Goode said he would comply with the most stringent bail conditions, which would include house arrest and a curfew, as his experience of being in custody had been salient, and he had learned about the reality of life behind bars.

Magistrate Campbell said he would likely face a term of imprisonment for his offending.

She said it was a difficult matter, but given his very young age and his willingness to comply with strict bail conditions, she would grant bail and give him this opportunity.

The teenager breathed a loud sigh of relief. “Thank you, thank you, your honour,” he later said.

He was bailed on conditions, including that he live with his parents and be present at all times unless in their company.

The matter was adjourned to June.

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