26 March 2023

Teen alleged to have robbed match from Grindr dating app

| Albert McKnight

Ronan Albert Smith, 19, has been refused bail over an alleged robbery. Photo: Facebook.

A teenager is accused of robbing a man, who he had allegedly been speaking to over the gay dating app Grindr, while making comments like, “I know bikies”.

On 9 September, 2022, the man had been speaking via the app with a person he thought was named ”James”, a person who police allege was actually 19-year-old Ronan Albert Smith.

The man organised for an Uber to pick Smith up from his home in Ngunnawal late that night so he could be dropped at his apartment, police allege in court documents.

Smith allegedly met the man out the front of his apartment block when he arrived and repeatedly asked whether he lived alone as they walked inside.

In the apartment, it is alleged Smith told him he was 16 years old and had a group of 16-year-old friends waiting in a car nearby.

It’s alleged the man said he did not believe Smith was 16 and told him to leave, but Smith said, “I will not leave until I get what I want”.

Smith allegedly took the man’s car keys from his kitchen bench and said, “I am taking your car, do not tell the police, I will return it on Monday. If you do not give me what I want, I know bikies and the sergeant-at-arms”.

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It is alleged Smith asked whether he had any gold or valuables, then searched his bedroom and stole a Giorgio Armani watch.

Police also allege he told the man he would not leave until the man showed him his bank accounts, so the man did and transferred him $700.

It is alleged when Smith left, he drove off in the man’s car.

Police allege the address where the Uber driver picked up the person said to be ”James” is Smith’s recorded home address in Ngunnawal.

Officers saw the man’s car parked nearby when they visited the home the next day. They spoke to Smith when he came to the door and he told them he did not know anything about the car and had been home all night.

Smith, who has a tattoo down his jaw that says ”19 over”, has pleaded not guilty to charges of robbery and driving a vehicle without consent over the alleged incident. He has also been handed charges over unrelated allegations.

He applied for bail in the ACT Magistrates Court on Friday (24 March), arguing that he wanted to get help for his mental health and his partner was giving birth to his child.

His Legal Aid lawyer said Smith’s partner had been due to give birth the day before, so the child had likely been born by Friday and he suspected “it’s a congratulations to my client”.

He also said Smith was a diagnosed schizophrenic and wanted to stay properly medicated.

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Prosecutor Julia Churchill, who opposed bail due to the alleged likelihood of him failing to appear in court and reoffending, claimed he had been granted bail twice before, but had been brought back to court with more allegations of offending both times.

Magistrate Ian Temby alleged there was a real likelihood of him committing similar allegations if released from custody.

He said the question was whether Smith’s desire to get help for his mental health and the impending birth of his child would alter that assessment, but said, “Ultimately, I’m not convinced that they do”.

Bail was refused, although the magistrate did remark it was “not an easy decision” as he may be a new parent.

The matter returns to court on 4 April.

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