AN ARMED robber who held up a Long Gully service station in a "frightening" incident told police he offended because he wanted to go to jail, a court has heard.
Tyler Matthew Beacham, 26, appeared in the County Court on Tuesday where he pleaded guilty to charges of armed robbery, failing an oral fluid test, and failing to stop a vehicle after an accident.
The court heard on December 20 last year, a man was working alone at the BP service station on Eaglehawk Road in Long Gully.
About 8.57pm, Beacham and an associate arrived at the station in a blue Mazda 3 sedan. The associate parked at a petrol bowser and Beacham exited the passenger seat to fill up the car with fuel.
At the same time, two witnesses were also on site filling up their vehicles.
After finishing refuelling the car, Beacham entered the service station and went to a fridge to collect two bottles of Coke.
The court heard he was agitated as he went to the counter. There was only one other person inside the service station at the time.
Beacham placed the soft drink bottles on the counter and the worker asked if that was all he would be paying for.
Beacham responded yes before pointing a kitchen knife at the victim and demanding he hand over "whatever (was) in the till".
The worker gave about $200 to Beacham before the 26-year-old placed the knife on the counter and left the store. He entered the passenger's seat and his associate sped off.
One of the witnesses saw Beacham's rear number plate was concealed with a piece of cloth so they followed Beacham in their own vehicle.
The court heard the blue Mazda pulled over on Eaglehawk Road and Beacham moved into the driver's seat.
The witness pulled over close by to check the registration and Beacham collided with the vehicle, causing minor damage.
Beacham drove off and the witness returned to the BP service station where they called 000.
Police arrived on scene about 9.10pm and located the knife and bottles of coke on the counter. The officers obtained CCTV footage from the store and took statements.
Beacham was intercepted driving the Mazda about 9.50pm. Police located some of the stolen cash in his pocket and Beacham immediately admitted to the armed robbery.
The 26-year-was arrested and taken to the Bendigo Police Station for questioning. Beacham underwent an oral fluid test which returned a positive reading for cannabis.
During his record of interview, Beacham told police he "wanted to end up in prison" and that he was "very, very sorry".
Beacham also told officers he would have left without harming the victim if the worker did not hand over the money.
Defence counsel Nicholas Rolfe told the court Beacham had a "very difficult" upbringing as he spent his early years in foster care before moving to Ballarat to live with his grandparents.
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Mr Rolfe said Beacham began using cannabis and methamphetamines at 15 years old and "the wheels fell off".
The defence counsel said the 26-year-old worked through his serious drug addiction during a nine-month stint at a Bendigo residential rehabilitation facility in 2020.
Mr Rolfe said Beacham was able to abstain from drugs but relapsed when his close friend died by suicide last year.
The defence counsel said Beacham had already served 302 days of pre-sentence detention and had used his time in custody to stay clean.
Mr Rolfe submitted that a combination sentence of jail and a community corrections order would be within range given Beacham's early guilty plea, remorse, and lack of prior convictions.
Prosecutor Phillip Raimondo said the prosecution agreed that a combination sentence would be appropriate.
Judge Pardeep Tiwana said armed robberies at service stations were prevalent and very serious.
Judge Tiwana said Beacham's crime would have been "extremely frightening and intimidating" for the victim who was a "soft target" working alone at night.
The judge said he accepted Beacham had entered a plea at an early stage and was remorseful for the offending.
Judge Tiwana said he would have Beacham assessed for a corrections order before he sentenced him next week.
Beacham was remanded in custody until his next County Court date.
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