Shooting staged, an alleged fraud
THE shooting of a Coffs Harbour cafe employee during an apparent robbery last year was allegedly nothing more than a staged act of fraud.
Police today arrested the 21-year-old man, who suffered a bullet wound to his shoulder after it was fired from a .22 rifle outside Park Beach Plaza in June last year.
More than a year since the alarming crime, police believe they have gotten to the truth of the matter, that the victim and a former Coffs Harbour man, also aged 21, allegedly conspired and staged the shooting.
Coffs Clarence Local Area Commander Superintendent Mark Holahan said the alleged motive was to access workers compensation.
"What we are alleging now after the arrest of a 21-year-old former Coffs Harbour man at Armidale on Tuesday night and the arrest today of another 21-year-old Coffs Harbour man is that the alleged victim and the person who committed the crime have conspired to defraud an insurance company," Superintendent Mark Holahan said.
The shooting happened as the cafe employee emptied rubbish into bins outside Park Beach Plaza during his shift on the night of June 15, last year.
The man told police he was confronted by an armed offender who concealed his face with a handkerchief and demanded his wallet.
Staggering into the shopping centre with the bullet wound the man was assisted by a woman who called triple-0.
"This has taken a lot of police resources to get us where we are today, this crime evoked a large amount of community outrage at the time; that someone was shot during a robbery really upset this community and what we allege is that it wasn't what it appeared to be on first cusp," Supt. Holahan said.
"Robbery is a major concern in this command at this time, as we are all aware we have been assisting investigators with Strike Force Mehi in the sudden spike in robberies that we've had.
"Those investigations take a lot of our resources.
"At first we honestly believed that this was a robbery and it wasn't until some time later as we continued to delve into this robbery that we found out otherwise and what it appeared to be," Supt. Holahan said.
A rigourous investigation by Coffs Harbour detectives into the matter saw police release security vision from the night of the shooting.
A comfit image based on the description from the victim was also circulated on the year anniversary of the crime.
But now police say they have established what actually happened.
"The police officers involved in strike force Ronda have been vehement in their investigation of this matter and have pursued it for this long and ultimately come up with these arrests today," he said.
It will be alleged the offenders agreed to gain a financial reward from the ensuing compensation payments.
On Tuesday, a 21-year-old man was arrested at Armidale Police Station.
He was charged with aggravated robbery with wounding, fire firearm in or near public place, and dishonestly obtain financial advantage.
The man was refused bail to appear at Coffs Harbour Local Court next Tuesday.
Meanwhile today the 21-year-old victim, who is now facing charges, was arrested at Coffs Harbour Police Station and continues to assist police with inquiries.