An armed robber who dressed as Zorro and held a cleaner hostage at the Victoria Hotel in 2019 was sentenced to nine years' jail on Friday afternoon.
Paul William Mooney, 52, formerly of Byng Street, was found guilty by a jury in Orange District Court on April 23 this year for break and enters at the Orange Ex-Services' Country Club, Ashcroft's Supa IGA, and for committing a robbery at the Victoria Hotel while armed with a knife and brandishing a firearm or imitation firearm.
On Friday, he appeared via audio visual link from jail where he's been held on remand while District Court Judge Graham Turnbull handed down his sentence in Bathurst District Court.
The offences were committed while he wore a black mask and cape between June 29 and July 20, 2019. Early reports described him as Batman but he told an associate he was meant to be Zorro.
In each offence, Mooney was captured on CCTV in what Judge Turnbull described as "ham-fisted" attempts to steal money from ATMs at each venue, as well as empty poker machines at the hotel. He failed all three times, and during the first break-in at the country club he targeted the wrong machine, tying a snap strap to the member sign-in machine instead of the ATM.
However, Mooney did manage to obtain $80 from a rejected cash drawer of the ATM at the Victoria Hotel. The cleaner, who was threatened with a knife and a firearm and had his hands and legs bound, also handed over $300 in cash that was in a cup behind the bar. That money had been raised from a bistro promotion.
"Because he continues to deny involvement [there is] no contrition or remorse," Judge Turnbull said.
However, he said Mooney was entitled to a 25 per cent sentencing discount after he entered an early guilty plea to a fourth offence of intentionally lighting a fire and being reckless to its spread.
Mooney pleaded guilty to rolling up newspaper and using a cigarette lighter to ignite the paper and set it in long grass at Ginns Road on September 24, 2019. Mooney left the scene before police arrived and contacted firefighters minutes later. The fire burnt a 600-square-metre area and was not near any houses.
Judge Turnbull said Mooney lit the fire out of frustration at being targeted by police, who were targeting him in their investigation into the earlier break and enters.
"He became paranoid ... he got upset, he says he didn't think about the affect it would have on surrounding land," Judge Turnbull said.
VIDEO: Caught on CCTV...
"He was in the grip of an ice addiction."
Judge Turnbull said Mooney started using it in May 2019 to cope with family court matters and smoked it every day.
He said that drug use was apparent by his actions in the CCTV footage.
Mooney was also subject to conditional liberty by way of a Conditional Release Order and Community Correction Orders for two counts of stalking or intimidation and one of breaching an Apprehended Violence Order.
However, prior to October 26, 2018, he had no criminal record. Mooney was brought up on a farm by parents with "high moral standards", went on to work various jobs on the land and played AFL at a professional level.
Because he continues to deny involvement [there is] no contrition or remorseJudge Graham Turnbull
A psychological report found no mental illness or cognitive impairments but his emotional range was amplified and he had difficulty moderating his emotional state.
It also found he failed to accept responsibility for his actions, experienced hostility, bitterness and a feeling of injustice with characteristics of a personality disorder.
"Unsurprisingly he's shown some of these characteristics in the prison system," Judge Turnbull said.
"He's had sanctions for violent and aggressive behaviour in [custody]."
However, he said there are some prospects for Mooney's rehabilitation back into the community, especially since he was offence free for most of his life and this has been his first time in custody.
"I don't think he's heartless, I don't think he's cold blooded, he's now going to have to pay a debt to society," Judge Turnbull said noting that Mooney has been in custody on remand since his arrested in September 2019, a large portion of which was in the heightened restrictions imposed due to COVID-19.
He sentenced Mooney to a total of nine years' jail with a six-month non-parole period, which Mooney will need to apply for and is not be guaranteed.
The jail sentence was backdated to April 29, 2019, he can apply for parole on April 28, 2025, with the sentence to end on April 28, 2028.
Judge Turnbull handed down no conviction and said there would be no further proceedings for a related offence of possession of rounds of ammunition that were found during a police search of Mooney's house.
- On October 6, Judge Turnbull made a date correction on the sentence. The jail term now runs from September 24, 2019, with a potential parole release date of September 23, 2025. The sentence will now end on September 23, 2028.
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