A MAN lured two victims to a Bendigo car park on the pretence of a drug deal so his associates could violently steal their car.
John Hannis Bartels, 25, appeared in the County Court this week where he pleaded guilty to charges of armed robbery and possessing a drug of dependence.
Court documents released to the Bendigo Advertiser said in the early hours of February 18, 2020, Bartels and two co-accused met up with the victims in Marong for a drug deal.
When the two victims arrived in their white Holden utility, Bartels entered the car and told the victims to drive to the Queen Elizabeth Oval.
About two hours later, Bartels' two co-accused arrived wearing face coverings and carrying a tomahawk and a knife.
The pair used the weapons to smash the car windows as they yelled at the victims to get out of the car.
When one of the victims tried to drive off, Bartels pulled the handbrake on and told them to "shut up".
One of the co-accused then took the car keys out of the ignition.
The victims begged the offenders to stop and Bartels responded, "sorry, but I have to otherwise I will get killed".
Bartels also gave one of the victims two cigarettes and told her not to tell the police.
The victims got out of the car and Bartels drove the white ute away from the scene.
The victims went to a nearby pharmacy and told a security guard about the robbery, who then reported the incident to police.
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Bartels was arrested at his Epsom home later that morning. He had a small amount of methamphetamine in his possession.
Bartels' two co-accused were found at another Bendigo property a short time later. The stolen white ute, weapons, and victims' possessions were found at the address.
Bartels admitted to knowing the plan to steal the white ute, but told officers he had been forced to participate by the two co-accused.
Prosecutor David Cordy told the County Court it was conceded that Bartels had a less serious role than his two co-accused.
The defence counsel noted Bartels had already spent 542 days in custody as part of his pre-sentence detention.
The lawyer said the judge should take that time into consideration.
Judge Michael Cahill said he was not attracted to the idea of a straight prison sentence, as the rate of recidivism was often much higher than sentences with a parole period or community corrections order.
Judge Cahill adjourned sentencing to later this week so Bartels could undergo a corrections assessment.
The 25-year-old was remanded in custody until his next County Court date.
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