Alcoholic scientist jailed after terrifying bank heist
A FORMER government scientist turned bank robbery bandit has been jailed for more than seven years after he stole $20,000 and threatened to shoot a teller.
Stephen Michael Lawler, 43, had been drinking since 8am when he walked into the Tewantin Westpac branch, donned in black clothing, a black bandanna and sunglasses about 1.15pm on November 9, 2017.
He approached the bank counter armed with a rubber-band gun covered in a scarf and pushed a female customer aside to take a $20 note on the counter before threatening the teller saying, "hurry up, give me all your f---ing money".
Lawler went on to force a male customer to the ground using the threat of his gun, which he implied was real, before kicking the man in the back.
He then yelled at another staff member, "I don't want to have to shoot you. Hurry up, I know you've pushed the bell".
After being handed over $20,000, Lawler fled the scene leaving bank notes scattered on the ground in his wake.
He returned to his wife's home and told her what he'd done, but she didn't believe him.
From there Lawler went to a pub where he continued drinking before car jacking a couple in a nearby carpark.
During the struggle, Lawler got in the driver's seat and drove about 50m, hitting three parked cars and injuring the car's owner and passenger.
Lawler pleaded guilty in Maroochydore District Court to five charges including two counts of assault occasioning bodily harm and single counts of dangerous operation of a vehicle, armed robbery with violence and unlawful entry of a vehicle.
Defence barrister Angus Edwards told the court his client intended on working in environmental science again after his release from prison.
Lawler graduated with a Bachelor of Environmental Science and worked as a scientist for the government for more than 10 years.
Mr Edwards said Lawler had struggled with alcohol addiction since the age of 15 and when sober had the "capacity to be a good man".
Judge Gary Long said it was clear Lawler was remorseful for his actions and ordered he serve a head sentence of seven years and three months imprisonment, minus the 447 days he'd already served.
Lawler will be eligible for parole in February 2020.