Man charged after syringe hold-up
A MAN has been charged over an armed robbery in which a local hotel staff member was allegedly threatened with a blood-filled syringe on Wednesday night.
A crime scene was established at the bottleshop of the Pier Hotel in Camperdown St shortly after 9.50pm.
The offender allegedly stole bottles of bourbon before fleeing on foot.
As shown in the security image, hotel staff say the man threatened an 18-year-old staff member on three occasions with the syringe warning him not to report the incident.
Police were alerted and officers combed the streets of the Jetty area looking for the assailant.
A breakthrough came in the case within 15 hours of the crime when Coffs Harbour-based Target Action Group police yesterday arrested a man matching the description of the offender.
Hotel security video footage will be presented as evidence in the case against the man.
Coffs Clarence crime manager, Detective Inspector Cameron Lindsay, said a 26-year-old male, of no fixed address, was being held in custody.
He is facing charges of robbery whilst armed to appear in the Coffs Harbour Local Court today.
The accused was arrested in Moonee Street around 12.30pm and last night remained in police custody after charges were laid.
“It’s very pleasing to have seen an arrest in relation to this incident so quickly,” Mr Lindsay said.
Pier Hotel manager Tony Jones said it was a relief the man suspected of committing such a violent and shocking crime “was off the streets”.
Mr Jones credited the 18-year-old staff member, who was allegedly threatened on three occasions by the offender, for his calm and collected handling of a dangerous situation.
“Our young staff member has been working with us for just over a month, he’s straight out of school, yet he handled it like an absolute pro, he put his hands in the air and followed all of the proper security protocol,” Mr Jones said.
“He was threatened after the bloke produced the blood-filled syringe from under his sleeve and to his credit he’s back working in the coolroom after the offer of counselling was made.
“In my opinion this was completely an isolated incident, by a desperate individual.
“In my two years in the hotel this is only the second incident we’ve had.
“I think it was just a case that he was desperate and we were open.
“He has never been to the hotel before and we’ve heard he’s a blow-in to town.”
Mr Jones said the incident had prompted a review of the hotel’s trading hours.
“We’ll be changing the way in which we serve takeaways as well as the trading hours of the bottleshop.
“The safety of our staff is the most important thing.”
The incident was captured by the hotel’s security cameras.