A man who held a replica pistol to the back of a man's head as he pushed him around a Riverina service station while on parole will not walk free until at least 2026.
Zack Leroy was clad in dark clothing with a stocking mask covering his neck, face and head, wearing gloves and holding a weapon when he emerged from the dark and approached the man who was sweeping the office of the Illabo Road Shell in Junee around 11.20pm.
"Where is the money, give me all the money," Leroy demanded.
A further question as to where the safe was bore no fruit either.
"F--ked if I know, I don't even work here I am just helping a friend," the man replied, prompting Leroy to grab his jumper and hold the firearm to the back of his head, pushing him towards the entrance to the shop.
Inside, the woman on shift could see the man being moved along with his arms in the air, with someone behind him.
"This is not a joke, this is real," she heard from her friend as Leroy, 28, swung the pistol towards her.
Believing it was a real gun - neither she nor the man Leroy had grabbed and forced into the shop knew it was a gel blaster - the woman ducked behind shelves and ran to lock herself in the storeroom.
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At the same time, Leroy let the man go. Noticing his assailant was fixated on the cash register, the man fled the building and hid behind a pot plant outside.
Inside, Leroy was trying to crack open the till, eventually resorting to grabbing the whole thing and making a run for it.
Leroy last week appeared before Wagga District Court's Judge Gordon Lerve to learn his fate over the August 31, 2022 attack, having previously pleaded guilty to robbery while armed with an offensive weapon.
Leroy was arrested in Ashmont nine days after the robbery, which was entirely captured on CCTV.
Police collected further footage from around Junee, in the process identifying a vehicle owned by Bradley Smith - a known associate of Leroy's - was in the area at the same.
Smith was arrested and while in custody told police the location of the weapon used in the hold-up. It was later found near trees a short distance from Dunning Road, along with two magazines and a mobile phone SIM card.
Leroy had headed north from the scene to a car - driven by Smith, who has pleaded guilty to and is awaiting sentence for being an accessory after the fact of armed robbery - with a total of $647.15 and a cash register valued at $185.
He initially denied the allegations after he was arrested and interviewed by police on September 9.
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The court heard Leroy has a gambling problem and was injecting methamphetamine three times a day as well as smoking cannabis daily, while estimating he had been off psychiatric medication for 18 months.
He had "real world drug debts" and sourced the weapon and robbed the Shell to pay them, Dr Andrew Ellis reported Leroy as telling him.
"I kick myself" when thinking of the incident, Leroy had told Dr Ellis, and had expressed that "the effects on the victims are more" and "they might be scared to leave the house".
Leroy met the criteria for diagnosis of schizophrenia, with a decade-long history of delusions, hallucinations and thought disorder, Dr Ellis submitted, as well as substance use disorder. He also believed Leroy would be considered to suffer from antisocial personality disorder.
Dr Ellis noted Leroy - who was on a new medication regime Leroy said "helps heaps" - said he had heard voices all his life until the last six months and had stopped self-harming, though was unsure how he would manage the cravings for crystal methamphetamine he still had in the future.
Letters of apology to the victims, a letter indicating his remorse, and health records were also submitted to the court.
In sentencing, Judge Lerve agreed with submissions by the Crown that another robbery offence could not be ignored despite the mental illnesses suffered by Leroy, saying the impact of general deterrence was lessened to an extent but not eliminated completely.
"I cannot find that the offender is unlikely to re-offend or that he has good prospects of rehabilitation," he said.
"There is the criminal history and the breach of conditional liberty taken with the failure to engage with services while in the community."
Leroy was sentenced to five years and four months imprisonment, with a non-parole period of two years and 10 months, after Judge Lerve took into account both a 25 per cent reduction in penalty for the guilty plea, and a further charge of dishonestly obtain financial advantage by deception relating to the use of a debit card the same month as the robbery.
Leroy will become eligible for parole in January 2026, with recommendation for release under conditions.
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