Knife-wielding bottleshop robber jailed for three years

Tim EdmundsAlbany Advertiser
CCTV footage of the armed robbery.
Camera IconCCTV footage of the armed robbery. Credit: WA police

A Denmark mother who traumatised a bottleshop attendant when she armed herself with a large knife and robbed the Denmark Tavern two years ago has been jailed for more than three years.

Rebekah May O’Neill, 37, was jailed in the Perth Supreme Court on Tuesday for three years and six months after she was found guilty of the armed robbery at a trial last month.

O’Neill, who consistently denied the offence, stole $763 and three bottles of spirits while in disguise and threatened a female staff member with a large knife before fleeing the store on December 26, 2017.

State prosecutor Jehna Winter referred to the victim impact statement from the bottleshop attendant who Judge Anthony Derrick said had suffered considerably from the “terrifying and traumatising experience”.

Judge Derrick said the planned robbery, despite lasting only about 30 seconds had adversely impacted the employee who feared being stabbed and never returned to work.

“In committing your offence you engaged in very frightening, threatening and violent conduct towards the vulnerable female employee of the bottle shop,” he said.

“It was, no doubt, a terrifying and traumatising experience.”

During the trial O’Neill repeatedly denied committing the armed robbery, with her evidence she was at home when the offence was committed described by Judge Derrick as “entirely unconvincing”.

Defence lawyer Bruno Illari said his client had not become involved with the law until she was 34 and pointed to a psychological report which outlined O’Neill’s psychological problems and subsequent treatment needs.

Judge Derrick said prison was the justified sentencing option after taking into account O’Neill’s personal circumstances, the seriousness of the offence and the need for general deterrence, jailing her for three years and six months.

“The people who work in them (bottleshops) are vulnerable and frequently suffer emotionally as a result of your kind of offending, as has occurred in this case,” he said.

The sentence was backdated to September last year and O’Neill was made eligible for parole.

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