Beep at Macca’s ‘ends in death threats’
A Wollongong man and his partner was beeped at in a McDonald's carpark, setting off what police allege was a furious campaign that ended with him blowing up the beeper's car.
Appearing via video link in Wollongong Local Court today, Ryan Sharp, 33, was still dressed in the yellow high-vis outfit he was wearing when he was dramatically arrested at a petrol station by the heavily armed public riot squad early Tuesday morning.
Mr Sharp immediately welled up when he spotted his mum and sister in the courtroom, occasionally bursting into tears as he waved at his family and repeatedly mouthed, "I'm sorry".
His mother Debbie, who Mr Sharp could see from his locked video link room, mouthed back: "It's OK, be strong".
His 31-year-old partner, and co-accused, was also at court to support Mr Sharp but sat outside the courtroom.
Magistrate Michael Stoddart refused to release Mr Sharp on bail "given the gravity of the charges and the strength of the prosecution case".
Mr Stoddart told the court there was a "strong and overwhelming case" Mr Sharp had participated in "extremely grave criminal offences" and adjourned the case to May 30.
The court heard Mr Sharp had been living at his grandmother's house in Lurnea, in Sydney's south west, since 2017 after she had been diagnosed with cancer.
The court heard Mr Sharp's 81-year-old grandmother relied on him for her "health and support".
That was supported by his mother, who made submissions that she worried her mother's "health will decline if (Ryan) can't help her".
That was opposed by the prosecution, citing surveillance done by detectives leading up to Mr Sharp's arrest.
Police allege Mr Sharp only visited his sick grandmother's house a "handful of times", and would only stay in Lurnea when he and his partner had had a fight and she'd kick him out of her Lake Heights home.
The court heard Mr Sharp also had strong ties to the community and was employed as a refrigerator mechanic.
Despite that, Mr Stoddart refused his application for bail, a decision that caused Mr Sharp to immediately tear up.
"I love you mum," Mr Sharp said, before being led to jail.
Mr Sharp, 33 was dramatically arrested by the public riot squad early Tuesday morning outside a petrol station after an extensive police investigation. His 31-year-old partner was arrested a short time later.
Mr Sharp's application for bail was formally refused yesterday when his lawyer was unable to attend Wollongong Local Court. The 33-year-old appeared briefly via video link on Wednesday, crying on camera and waving at his sister in the courtroom.
NSW Police allege Mr Sharp and his partner put another Wollongong couple through hell, intimidating, threatening and stalking them for six weeks in a terrifying campaign that allegedly ended with Mr Sharp blowing up the couple's car in the early hours of March 5 as it sat in the family's Koonawarra driveway.
The car was not destroyed but police allege the blast had the potential to kill or seriously injure someone.
Police allege the drama started on February 22 when Mr Sharpe's partner was driving in the McDonald's carpark in Warrawong, a suburb in the NSW city of Wollongong.
Mr Sharp's partner was allegedly close to hitting another car, causing the female driver of that car to beep at her. The two drivers began to argue in what police later described as a "relatively minor altercation".
Police allege Mr Sharp's partner, believing the woman was in the wrong, noted down her number plate and tried to lodge a police complaint.
But not long after lodging the complaint, police allege the couple took matters into their own hands.
Detective Superintendent Michael McLean told reporters yesterday Mr Sharp and his partner used "ingenious" methods to hunt the driver down and find her Wollongong home.
The couple was then allegedly subject to weeks of threats and intimidation, including having the windows of her Ford Ranger smashed.
Mr McLean said the couple were also hit with a "barrage of online threats"
Police say the threatening behaviour came to a head on March 5 when Mr Sharp planted a bomb on the woman's car, causing it to blow up in a fiery explosion in her family driveway.
During their investigation, detectives allege threats were also being made to a relative of an electronics store worker over an unrelated dispute.
Following extensive investigations, strike force detectives, assisted by the Public Order and Riot Squad, arrested Mr Sharp just before 6am on Tuesday during a vehicle stop on King St in Warrawong.
Police allegedly found a drone, an extendible baton and documents in Mr Sharp's car.
Mr Sharp was charged with two counts of use carriage service to threaten serious harm, two counts of stalk/intimidate intend fear physical etc harm, use carriage service to threaten to kill, destroy or damage property, place explosive in/near vehicle with intent cause harm, threaten or cause injury to person for being witness and two counts of possess or use prohibited weapon without permit.
After Mr Sharp's arrest, police searched a home at nearby Lake Heights where they found a pipe bomb. Officers from the Rescue and Bomb Disposal Unit made sure the bomb was safe before detectives continued their search.
Investigators also seized an electronic control device, numerous electronic storage devices, a computer, a laptop, and mobile phones.
Mr Sharp's 31-year-old partner was arrested at the Lake Heights home and charged with accessory after the fact to destroy or damage property and stalk/intimidate intend fear physical etc harm.
She was granted strict conditional bail and is due to appear at Wollongong Local Court on Wednesday May 22.
Police then searched a second home at Lurnea in Sydney's southwest, allegedly finding more items that are used to make improvised explosive devices (IED).
"The Fixated Persons Investigations Unit was established in 2017 by Commissioner Mick Fuller to focus on the detection, intervention, and prevention of so-called 'lone actor' and 'fixated person' threats and grievance-fuelled violence across the state," NSW Police said in a statement.