Gun-wielding robber flees to Canada, still lands in jail

A SANDY Beach man who fled to Canada after committing a violent home invasion in Wooli has been sentenced to three-and-half years in jail.

Appearing in Coffs Harbour District Court, Joseph Gordon-Smith, 27, was convicted of armed robbery in company.

Three co-accused offenders - Anthony Axisa, Joel Threadgate and Travis Waters - have denied involvement in the robbery and their matters are still before the court.

The charge dates back to October 13, 2014 when the offenders threatened a Wooli couple with a firearm, a BB gun, baton and a taser.

The court heard the male victim was known to Gordon-Smith and they had met on several occasions. Gordon-Smith was also aware of a safe containing cash at the victims' property.

On the day of the offence, the male victim told the court he heard a loud V8 engine in his street, before answering knocks to his door.

Gordon-Smith and the co-accused - whose faces were disguised - approached the door and the victim saw one of the men holding a shortened firearm.

This person said "get on the ******* floor" and pushed the barrel of the firearm against the victim's chest.

There were repeated threats to "get your hands behind your back and get on the ground" as the victim was slapped in the face.

The victim told the court Gordon-Smith said "put your hands behind your back and we won't hurt you, we just want to rob you and go."

Gordon-Smith denied saying this.

The victim's wife was holding her 18-month-year-old son, and broke into tears as she witnessed her husband's arms and legs tied by the offenders.

The male victim told the court he was struck to the side of the head with what appeared to be the firearm, and was asked "where's the keys to the safe?"

The victim complied, offering them the combination to open it, but the offender returned moments later saying "that's not it, that's not all your money. Where's the rest?"

Offenders then demanded keys to the victims' Range Rover, Holden Commodore, Toyota Hilux, and Mini.

The male victim again complied.

After searching upstairs, two of the offenders returned to the loungeroom with a taser and BB gas-powered pistol and said "you're ****** now."

The court was told Axisa put the BB gun down the front of the victim's pants as the taser was applied to his back and neck.

After offenders demanded jewellery, the female victim fled to the kitchen, picked up a knife and pointed it towards Gordon-Smith.

One of the men, holding a baton, then walked to the kitchen and said "give me the ******* jewellery."

The male victim told his wife to comply, and three rings - including her wedding and engagement rings - were pulled from her fingers.

Gordon-Smith then released the male victim's ties and Waters demanded that he sign registration papers for the vehicles.

As the offenders fled the scene, Axisa told the victim "this stops right here" before telling Gordon-Smith "they know what happens".

In all, around $8000 in cash, a $2000 gold necklace, two mobile phones, three rings, and two cars were stolen from the victims' home.

Gordon-Smith told the court he did not receive any proceeds from the robbery, although "it would have been nice 'cause I was involved in it."

After the incident, Gordon-Smith hitch-hiked to the Gold Coast and purchased a plane ticket to Malaysia before continuing to Canada where he remained on a working visa.

En-route, he exchanged $2805 for Canadian and Malaysian currency - claiming the cash was from his brother-in-law, not proceeds from the robbery.

While in Canada, Gordon-Smith spoke to Australian detectives investigating the robbery and named Axisa, Waters and "a person known as Joel" as co-offenders.

Gordon-Smith returned to Australia on April 11 last year, a day before his Canadian visa expired, and was arrested at Sydney Airport.

In August, he was interviewed by detectives - naming Threadgate as the man "known as Joel."

Gordon-Smith told detectives at the time of the offence he owed Axisa $5000 for the purchase of methylamphetamine.

He admitted he was the only offender who knew where the victims lived, but claimed he was forced to go to the property and did not know the victims were going to be robbed.

Crown prosecutor Angela Bowen submitted armed robbery "is to be regarded as an offence of the utmost gravity which must carry a full time custodial sentence."

Appearing before Judge Clive Jeffreys, Gordon-Smith pleaded guilty to the offence and was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison, commencing from the date of his arrest.

He is eligible for parole on October 10 this year.

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