Robber pleads guilty to Port Fairy IGA armed heist

A SOUTH Australian man will be sentenced next year after pleading guilty to the armed robbery of the Port Fairy IGA supermarket.

Craig Benjamin Robert Vaughan, 44, of Victor Harbor, pleaded guilty in Warrnambool County Court yesterday to the 2009 robbery, which netted $65,000 in cash.

On the night of March 9, 2009, two men used a sawn-off rifle to hold up the IGA supermarket at the end of the annual Port Fairy Folk Festival.

The balaclava-clad bandits confronted a store attendant who was cleaning up shortly after 9pm. 

They entered the shop from the rear entrance, produced the firearm and demanded the attendant open the safe before fleeing on foot down a laneway.

Co-accused, Christopher Aaron Smith, died in custody in July 2010. There were no suspicious circumstances.

Defence counsel David McKenzie said one reason for the late plea was because Vaughan had not seen the CCTV footage until it was shown to the court last week.

The footage was shown to a jury as part of the opening address by the prosecution but the jury was later discharged.

Mr McKenzie said he was keen to get material together before the plea hearing.

The court heard Vaughan was currently serving a sentence for a previous armed robbery.

Judge Julian Leckie adjourned the matter for a plea and sentence hearing on February 18, 2013, at the County Court in Melbourne.

At the time of the robbery store owner Colin Cleary said he was relieved his staff escaped unharmed.

Mr Cleary was grateful that only his 46-year-old store attendant was in the store at the time of the heist, cleaning the floors. 

“No one wants a gun pointed at their head ... he was quite obviously shaken up,” he said.

“There’s no such thing as a dead hero. He did exactly the right thing, just did what they wanted him to do.”

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