Glenreagh Payne jailed for orchestrating Hunter service station robberies

DURESS: Samuel Barnes was forced to commit a number of armed robberies by mastermind Glenreagh Payne in June, 2016.

DURESS: Samuel Barnes was forced to commit a number of armed robberies by mastermind Glenreagh Payne in June, 2016.

HE was the mastermind behind a spate of armed robberies – a “Fagin-type character” who used violence and intimidation to force two baby-faced bandits to hold-up five Hunter service stations in six nights. 

He put a knife to their throats, forced one teenager to smoke ice for the first time, armed his young accomplices with blood-filled syringes, drove the getaway car and pocketed the lion’s share of the proceeds. 

But Glenreagh Payne, now 23, of East Maitland, will be eligible for parole in two years after he was sentenced in Newcastle District Court on Thursday for his role in orchestrating armed robberies at service stations at Islington, Muswellbrook, Raymond Terrace, Heatherbrae and Maitland.

The sudden surge in armed robberies had detectives searching for two teenagers who appeared on CCTV footage clutching blood-filled syringes. 

But waiting in the wings, just outside the view of the cameras, was Payne.

And while he didn’t physically participate in any of the robberies, he controlled his young team of bandits with threats of violence, provided them with weapons, transport and gave instructions on the best way to commit a robbery. 

As well as the teen clutching the syringe, he would typically get another young male to stand in the doorway of the service station during the robbery, stopping the staff members from closing the sliding doors and locking them in until police arrived. 

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And he mixed tomato sauce with water to fill the syringe, knowing the sight of a blood-filled, sharp implement was more likely to scare an operator into handing over the cash and cigarettes. 

"He was a Fagin-type character," Crown prosecutor PJ O'Brien said during Payne’s sentencing on Thursday.

"Operating in the shadows and sending his minions forth."

One of the service station attendants read a victim impact statement in court on Thursday, outlining for Payne the emotional torment that has plagued her since Barnes pulled out the blood-filled syringe. 

“I had a million thoughts running through my head like “what if he stabs me with it, what if he jumps the counter”,” the woman said. 

Judge Roy Ellis said he was encouraged by Payne’s willingness to attend a residential drug rehabilitation facility once released from custody when he sentenced him to a maximum of five-and-a-half years in jail, with a non-parole period of three years and three months.

With time served, Payne will be eligible for parole in February, 2020. 

Last year, Barnes was sentenced to an 18-month suspended jail term.