A YOUNG man who held up a service station at Anna Bay and a grocery store at Soldiers Point in the space of five days and claimed he had no memory of committing one of the robberies because he was suffering from a drug-induced psychosis has avoided a jail term in Newcastle District Court.
During both robberies, Daniel James Cranney, now 22, of Salamander Bay, first spoke to a staff member before retreating to an aisle, ducking down and then re-appearing with a black cloth tied around his face.
"Sorry love, I am going to take your cash," Cranney told a female staff member at the Caltex service station at Anna Bay about 11.15pm on September 9 last year.
He then approached the counter armed with a large knife with a 20 centimetre blade. The terrified staff member opened the cash register and told him: "take what you want, just don't hurt me", according to an agreed statement of facts.
"I just want the cash," Cranney told her. "Sorry love, I have got cancer and I want cigarettes."
Cranney then stole $200 in cash and a packet of cigarettes before fleeing on foot.
Five days later Cranney walked into the Friendly Grocer at Soldiers Point, waited in line, bought something and then walked into an aisle to tie a black cloth over half his face.
On this occasion he had a can of deodorant and told a staff member: "Open the till, give me the money".
The staff member pressed the alarm and a male staff member came out of the back of the store and chased Cranney outside.
Witnesses in the street who saw Cranney running grabbed him and tried to hold him until police arrived, but Cranney repeatedly thrashed around and tried to punch one of the men.
Eventually he calmed down and was sat on a bench when he suddenly sprinted away, running through traffic and knocking a woman over.
Again he was restrained and lashed out, before a man driving past got out of his car and pushed the man who was holding Cranney, allowing Cranney to break free and run away again. Police eventually found him hiding behind bins nearby.
He was charged with the Friendly Grocer attempted robbery, refused bail by police but granted strict conditional bail.
But before he could appear in Raymond Terrace Local Court a few days later, police linked him to the Anna Bay robbery and he was charged and refused bail.
Cranney told police he suffered from drug-induced psychosis and could not remember committing the Anna Bay robbery.
Cranney, who has since been granted bail, pleaded guilty to armed robbery and attempted armed robbery and was sentenced to a 22-month ICO on Friday.