A Shellharbour woman with no criminal record has been accused of carrying out a late-night robbery at her local service station.
Police allege Anita Catherine Lide stole cigarettes and cash from the Metro Petroleum service station on Shellharbour Road about 2.30am on Monday after telling the female employee a sniper was pointing a gun at her.
Police documents tendered to Port Kembla Court during Lide’s bail application on Tuesday said the 38-year-old “cased” the premises a few hours earlier, driving slowly past it and several other fuel outlets around Shellharbour with her partner, who believed the pair were simply out for a drive.
They returned home, but Lide woke her partner just before 2.30am saying she wanted to go for another drive. The couple drove to the service station and parked about 100 metres north of the entry.
Lide got out of the car, carrying a pink shopping bag with her, but told the man to stay in the car.
It is alleged she put on a brown wig, coloured bandanna and thick-rimmed reading glasses to disguise herself before entering the store and telling the cashier: “I’ve got a sniper pointed at your head and two syringes on me. I want the money in the till and Winfield Gold and Blue cigarettes.”
When the shop assistant froze in shock, Lide allegedly told her: “I’m serious, I don’t want any trouble, I don’t want to hurt you, I’m just desperate.”
The employee handed over cash and cigarettes and Lide left the store and returned to the car, the police documents said.
Her partner allegedly asked her what she’d done, however she refused to tell him and drove the pair back to her home.
Once inside, Lide allegedly opened the bag to reveal the loot.
Meantime, a witness to the robbery recorded the number plate of the fleeing car and phoned police.
Officers turned up at Lide’s house a short time later, allegedly finding a note inside the still-warm car bearing similar words to those that had allegedly been said at the store.
Police claim Lide said the motor was warm because of radiator trouble, not because she’d just driven it.
During a later search of the house, police found cash and cigarettes.
Lide was charged with one count of robbery.
No charges were laid against her partner, who police conceded did not have any prior knowledge of Lide’s alleged actions that night.
In court on Tuesday, police prosecutor Sergeant Shannon Ryan urged the registrar to refuse Lide bail, claiming considerable planning had gone into the crime.
However, defence lawyer Angela Melouney said the court could impose strict bail conditions that would ensure Lide did not pose a threat to community safety.
She said Lide suffered from chronic pain and bipolar disorder, and time behind bars would be more onerous on her than other prisoners.
Registrar Nicole Hoffman agreed to release Lide on the conditions she report to police three times a week; not contact any prosecution witnesses; stay away from the Metro Petroleum service station; abide by a nighttime curfew; and take her prescribed medication. The case will return to court in February.
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