That's not a gun - armed robber foiled by passer-by with an eye for a fake
October 21, 2010
John Whitta was walking past a credit union when he saw a masked man inside, holding up the tellers with a replica pistol.
The 62-year-old confronted the bandit, Kevin John Moore, telling him: ''It's no good getting the girls to hurry because you're not getting out the door. You've gotta get past me.''
When Moore tried to run, Mr Whitta crash tackled him to the ground. Another passer-by admonished the pair for fighting, saying: ''Come on, it's Christmas time. Break it up.''
Mr Whitta pointed out that the man had a gun and had just robbed the bank. Two more bystanders helped Mr Whitta subdue Moore until police arrived.
"I saw he had a black-and-brown-coloured replica,'' Mr Whitta later told police. He was familiar with firearms and ''realised it was a plastic replica straight away''.
Moore had bought the pistol from a toy shop in Queensland for $2 and, in December 2008, used it to hold up credit unions in Lennox Head and Tweed Heads.
During the first robbery, one of the tellers had wondered if it was a real gun, but had not been prepared to take any chances. The second hold-up was foiled by Mr Whitta.
At the time, Moore was on parole in Queensland, having served a seven-year jail term for a violent armed robbery.
South of the border, his choice of weapon helped secure a cut in his sentence when he appealed against his maximum 15-year jail term.
Moore, 55, pleaded guilty in the NSW District Court to two counts of armed robbery.
He was jailed for at least 10 years, but argued in the Court of Criminal Appeal that his sentence was excessive.
His minimum term was longer than those handed down in three earlier cases where the offenders had used real firearms - a shortened rifle, a 12-gauge self-loading shotgun and a pistol - during robberies.
Under NSW legislation, imitation firearms are considered dangerous weapons.
But Justice David Davies said it was appropriate to consider armed robberies on an escalating scale of seriousness and, given Moore had used a toy pistol in both robberies, his offences were at the lower end of the scale.
''Further, he used no actual violence against the persons at whom the toy pistol was pointed,'' he said.
The appeal judges quashed Moore's sentence, saying it seemed ''significantly out of line'' with comparable cases.
They re-sentenced him to an effective term of 12 years, with an eight-year non-parole period.Armed robber of credit union foiled by passer-by
Now that IS awesome; what are the chances that someone passing would know it was a toy in the heat of the moment? Most would probably err on the side of caution like the sceptical teller.
Could be why QLD is planning on demanding licences for toy guns though. As if that's going to work any better than it does with criminals using real firearms now