A man has faced court following the alleged armed robbery of a service station at Avalon Beach.

Just after 4.15pm Wednesday (17 August) officers attached to Northern Beaches Police Area Command were called to the Metro Petroleum Service Station at Barrenjoey Road, Avalon Beach, following reports of an armed robbery.

The Northern Beaches Advocate visited the Metro Service Station at Avalon Beach yesterday (Thursday, 18 August) and spoke with one of the employees who was present during the alleged robbery. In retelling the story, we have chosen not to reveal the last names of the employees.

The Metro Service Station, located near the corner of Whale Beach Road and opposite Careel Creek, is an old-fashioned style ‘servo’ with a mechanical workshop attached and a regular clientele, a number of whom came in after the robbery to check on the welfare of the employees. It seems that in choosing this small business to target, the alleged robber made their first mistake.

Avalon service station robbery

Three staff were present when the alleged robber made his entrance; ‘Donna’ was working the register, ‘Luca’ was restocking shelves, and business owner ‘Manny’ was working in the office. Donna vividly recounted her experience.

“I was serving and Luca was putting stuff away on the shelves or in the fridges. We saw this kid sort of pop up, and he’s wearing a hoodie, very thick glasses and face covering. He came in looking shady, but it’s Avalon. You come in wearing a tinfoil hat and a bikini and nobody would say a word.

“I said to Luca, ‘I know this kid, why is he all masked up?’ You could not see a thing about him but it was a physicality and his gait. It was how he was approaching. Luca has a look and goes, ‘Oh yeah’.

“He comes in, and because of the way it is, you can’t see what he’s got down here but then when he’s turned from past the newspapers, that’s when you can see, he’s got a gun and it’s uncocked and over his arm. He’s holding a bag and walking toward us and I went cold.

“The weird thing is, the coldness didn’t last long, I went into customer service mode, and said ‘Hey, how are you?’ thinking he’s going to pick up a car. He’s carrying a gun, but I thought maybe he’s picking up a car.

“He just stood there blank and looking. I’m thinking, ‘You’re going to have to tell me what you want’. Next minute, he said ‘This is real. This is happening’. And he throws down a white Avalon boomerang bag, which is so recognisable, and says ‘fill it up’.

“I still haven’t touched the till. I call Manny, who was in the office. Manny comes in and I’ve said, ‘He wants the money’. Manny says, ‘Don’t be a hero Donna, give it to him’. I went, ‘Are you sure?’ because I was expecting it to be a joke, and he goes, ‘Yes, give it to him’. So I opened the till.

“Manny confronted the kid and said, ‘Come on mate, you’ve got to be kidding. Are you really going to do this to us?’ and the kid says, ‘Yeah’,” recalls Donna.

Avalon service station robbery

After Manny’s interjection, Donna said the robber became agitated and allegedly raised the weapon, saying he didn’t care about anything, claiming he had been diagnosed with cancer.

“This will stay with me forever, he cocked the gun and just lifts it enough for us all to go, ‘Now he’s not playing’. He collected the bag and then he just went, and we all just sort of looked at each other.

“We all started grabbing each other by the shoulders and asking each other if we were alright. Once we all realise we’re okay, Manny says, ‘I’ll go look for him!’ So he goes out, but can’t find him.

“It turns out he was parked in front of some flats. There’s a bloke sitting on his balcony and sees a kid carrying a gun and takes some pictures,” said Donna.

With the alarm raised, Northern Beaches Police Area Command swiftly responded, deploying multiple vehicles to the scene.

Police officers established a crime scene at the Metro Service Station and commenced an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident. With the evidence available, they located a 23-year-old man at Cabarita Road, Avalon Beach, where he was arrested around 5.00pm Wednesday (17 August).

The man was taken to Manly Police Station where he was charged with robbery while armed with a dangerous weapon and refused bail to appear in Manly Local Court yesterday (Thursday, 18 August).

In court, police alleged the man stole approximately $400 in cash while armed with an air rifle. The man’s legal representative said the allegations would be defended but did not make an application for bail, reserving the right to do so in two weeks’ time when he reappears in court. In the interim, it is understood the man may also be undergoing a psychiatric evaluation.

Avalon service station robbery

Yesterday afternoon, Donna said the experience had been ‘surreal’, but also showed compassion for the young man who had only the day before allegedly robbed her at gunpoint. A Rural Fire Service volunteer of 28 years, having recently helped flood victims in Northern NSW, she showed concern for the impact a bad decision could have on the young man’s life.

“We are all okay, we’re a little shaky, but none of us are physically hurt. We’re all on the same page, it should never have happened. But I’m upset because this poor kid, look at what he’s done to his life now,” shared Donna.

Images: Northern Beaches Advocate

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