Pair jailed over violent armed hold-up at Greta Workers Club

Thieves put behind bars

A VIOLENT early morning armed robbery at a Coalfields club, in which three bandits fled with little more than a man's ring, a laptop, a few bottles of alcohol and some pool cues, has put two of the thieves behind bars.

In Newcastle District Court on Friday, Judge Tim Gartelmann SC jailed Solomon Kafooti for a maximum of six years and nine months and Adam Potoczko for a maximum of five years and eight months for their roles in the robbery and ransacking at Greta Workers Club in the early hours of December 22, 2018.

It came after the pair pleaded guilty in March to armed robbery.

Judge Gartelmann said on Friday "a high degree of violence" was involved in the raid, in which a lone cleaner was confronted by the pair and their accomplice Jonah Taufua - who will be sentenced for his role in September - just after 5am.

The court heard that the armed trio - Kafooti had a sawn-off shotgun, Potoczko a samurai sword and Taufua a baseball bat - ransacked the club in search of money but the previous day's takings had already been cleared from the premises.

Kafooti, now aged 23, demanded the cleaner remove a ring from his finger and hand it over.

But when the man told the bandit it was stuck, Kafooti threatened to instead take his entire finger - at which point the cleaner parted with the ring.

The court heard Kafooti stood with his foot on the cleaner's neck and told him several times: "Don't move or I'll blow your head off".

Potoczko did not physically hurt the man, but threatened him by pointing the sword at him.

The trio escaped with a laptop computer, the cleaner's mobile phone and ring, some pool cues and five bottles of alcohol in a stolen dual cab ute as the club's greenkeeper was arriving for work.

Kifooti and Taufua were arrested after they crashed the stolen ute in the Sydney suburb of Dee Why on December 31 and Potoczko was charged in October, 2019, after details of his involvement were revealed in a recorded phone call with the alleged getaway driver - who remains before the courts.

In sentencing Kifooti and Potoczko on Friday, Judge Gartelmann said the cleaner from the club "suffered significant injuries" including abrasions and bruising, as well as a fractured knuckle and finger.

He said the ordeal continued to loom large in the man's life, causing sleeplessness, nightmares, regular headaches and that it had affected his employment.

"The damage the offence has caused the victim must be recognised," Judge Gartelmann told the court.

He said "significant planning" had been involved in the heist and the fact that there were three bandits - each armed - increased the seriousness of the robbery.

Both Kafooti and Potoczko received a 25 per cent discount on their penalties for pleading guilty at the earliest possible opportunity.

Judge Gartelmann set Kafooti a non-parole period of four years and six months. Potoczko was sentenced to a non-parole period of three years and nine months.