A Primbee man, along with his four mates, dragged a sleeping truck driver from his vehicle near Lithgow before they assaulted and shot him three times in order to steal $600,000 in cash stashed inside the truck, a court has heard.
Joshua Thompson, 29, was refused bail in Wollongong Local Court on Thursday following his alleged involvement in a terrifying and co-ordinated highway heist at Mount Lambie in September this year.
Four of the men were arrested in raids last week after a lengthy police investigation where it is alleged mobile phone data, traffic cameras and CCTV footage placed Thompson and his co-accused in the area at the time of the attack.
Thompson is facing up to 25 years in prison if convicted after he was charged with kidnap in company occasioning actual bodily harm.
He was also charged with discharging a firearm with intent to cause grievous bodily harm; robbery in company causing wounding/grievous bodily harm and participating in a criminal group by contributing to criminal activity.
Police documents tendered to court allege a Western Australian man, aged 42, took apart his freightliner truck and stashed 10 to 12 vacuum sealed bags of cash, totalling $600,000, before reassembling it and leaving Perth on September 25, bound for Sydney.
Woken by men smashing truck windows with hammers
On September 28, the driver parked his truck at a rest stop area on the Great Western Highway at Mount Lambie, near Lithgow, before falling asleep in the rear cabin.
The alleged victim said he was woken up at 4am by men banging on the windows before they were smashed with hammers.
Police allege five masked and gloved men, two of whom were armed, forced the driver out of the truck.
The men allegedly physically assaulted the driver, and repeatedly demanded money yelling "where's the money? I know you've got some money".
The driver repeatedly denied knowing about any money before he was dragged to the passenger side of the truck away from the highway and allegedly shot twice in the right foot.
The men allegedly again asked where the money was, and after a further denial, the driver was shot in the right thigh.
Feared for his life
The alleged assault continued before he was dragged back into the front passenger seat of the truck, which was then driven a short distance away into a quiet, dark road.
The men allegedly dragged the man out of the truck and again demanded the money.
Fearing he would be killed, the alleged victim told the men how to dismantle the truck and what tools to use.
The men allegedly worked for 20 minutes to disassemble the truck and found the money before they dispersed bags to one another.
One of the men allegedly said to the driver, "now we've got your address, we know where you live. Have you got family? ...You better not talk to the cops" before they left him suffering major arterial bleeding.
The driver called Triple-0 before a helicopter took him to Westmead Hospital, while police established a crime scene.
The man suffered arterial ruptures in his right leg and significant internal bleeding. He required surgery to his leg and was in hospital for three weeks.
Police found two fired cartridge casings, one unfired cartridge, shoe impressions and blood stains, as well as one sealed bag containing $50,000, multiple cigarette butts and power tools.
The cars Thompson and the co-accused were allegedly driving were captured on CCTV footage at various points during the night as well as on point-to-point traffic cameras on the highway.
Thompson and one of his co-accused were allegedly depicted on CCTV in his white Volkswagen Amarok utility at Lithgow McDonald's.
Thompson's mobile phone was also allegedly recorded at cell sites nearby on five occasions between 3.30am and 4.34am.
On November 26, police allege Thompson said during a lawfully intercepted phone call to an associate, "coppers are looking for me ... we spent two hundred grand in f---ing eight weeks.
"I don't know how long until the coppers catch me ... I don't know how much they actually have on me ... I used my car," police documents said.
He also allegedly said, "I spent a hundred grand in three weeks, four weeks".
Thompson's home was searched on December 2 and he was arrested before they seized his mobile phone, electronic data storage, and a Mazda BT-50, which police suspect of being purchased with the stolen money.
Police will allege the truck driver had previously met one of the accused when he delivered a piece of equipment to his work earlier this year.
Suffering from chemotherapy side-effects
In court on Thursday, defence lawyer Karen Watson told the court Thompson suffered from an auto-immune disease for which he took medication and he needed to attend medical appointments next week.
Ms Watson said her client was not receiving the medication he needed while in custody and was still suffering the side-effects of having chemotherapy, which he had received prior to his arrest.
"His health is declining. He is losing more sensation in his body," she said.
Ms Watson suggested the police had a "purely circumstantial case" against her client as the men were wearing masks and the conversations Thompson allegedly had were "only snippets" without context.
Thompson's mother and partner, who he has a child with, were in court for the bail application. His mother offered her house as surety, as did Thompson, which amounted to more than $1 million.
Magistrate Michael Stoddart said Thompson had been charged with "very serious offences" and refused to grant him bail due to the "very strong prosecution case".
The matter will return to court on February 3.