Men met for the first time an hour before holding up East Bendigo service station

Tyson Gray hands himself in to police shortly after the armed hold-up of Coles Express service station on McIvor Road. Picture: 9News/Julian Fisher
Tyson Gray hands himself in to police shortly after the armed hold-up of Coles Express service station on McIvor Road. Picture: 9News/Julian Fisher

TWO men who held up an East Bendigo service station with a knife claim they only met each other an hour earlier when one asked the other for a cigarette, a court has heard.

Tyson Gray, 25, and Michael Blow, 22, pleaded guilty in the Bendigo County Court on Tuesday to one count of armed robbery.

Prosecutor Kevin Doyle said both men had been drinking throughout the day on January 2 before they made separate decisions to go to Coles on McIvor Road.

They met each other for the first time in front of the supermarket about 9pm when Gray asked Blow for a cigarette, and they smoked his remaining two.

After asking passing customers for money for a little while, Blow suggested they go to the nearby Coles Express service station on McIvor Road to buy more cigarettes.

They arrived at the service station at 10.20pm and the attendant – who was smoking outside – unlocked the front door to let them inside.

Blow had his hood pulled low over his face, while Gray held a t-shirt up to his face on several occasions. CCTV footage of the robbery was played to the court.

Blow walked to the counter and made a demand for money, pointing a knife towards the attendant and threatening to kill him.

Tyson Gray is arrested by police on McIvor Road. Picture: 9News/Julian Fisher

Tyson Gray is arrested by police on McIvor Road. Picture: 9News/Julian Fisher

Blow received $200 cash and left the store, running along Kennedy Street and Lansell Street.

Gray walked to the nearby skate park, then walked back to the service station shortly after with his hands in the air saying “I give up, I give up” to attending police.

Blow was arrested at his home the following day, and refused to answer police questions.

Gray told police he had never met Blow before in his life, and did not know he planned to hold up the service station.

“I didn’t want anything to do with it,” he said in the police interview.

“(He) pulled out a black thing and yeah, it freaked me out.”

The court heard both men have prior convictions for armed hold-ups in the Bendigo area.

They both have chronic alcoholism and psychiatric conditions.

Defence counsel Kate Youngson, acting for Blow, said her client’s life changed dramatically when his father was killed last year.

“There was a marked deterioration in Mr Blow’s behaviour after the death of his father,” she said.

Blow and Gray will be assessed for community corrections orders and justice plans before they are sentenced on November 2.

Gray was granted bail while Blow was remanded in custody.