La Florentina Bakery staffer threw bread rolls at armed robber Hieu Hoang Nguyen, police say | The Canberra Times

La Florentina Bakery staffer threw bread rolls at armed robber Hieu Hoang Nguyen, police say | The Canberra Times

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A terrified bakery staff member threw bread rolls at a “brazen” knife-wielding robber when her pleas for him to leave fell on deaf ears, a court has heard. The alleged offender, Evatt student Hieu Hoang Nguyen, was refused bail on Monday, when a magistrate described the case against the 23-year-old as “very, very strong in every element”. In documents tendered to the ACT Magistrates Court, police say Mr Nguyen entered La Florentina Bakery at the Evatt shops and ordered a cake about 1.15pm last Friday. The attendant recognised him as an old customer, according to officers, who say Mr Nguyen did not wait for the cake and instead pointed a 20-centimetre knife at the woman. Mr Nguyen is accused of then instructing the woman to open the till, which she refused to do as she told him to stop. In response, he allegedly pushed a plastic protector screen off the counter and “waved the knife at her”, prompting the attendant to step back and ask: “Why are you doing this? We are from the same community.” Eventually, police say, Mr Nguyen climbed over the counter. The bakery attendant, fearing she was going to be stabbed, used a basket of bread rolls as a shield before launching some of them at the man, according to officers. Growing increasingly fearful, the woman told police that she tried to reason with Mr Nguyen in English and Vietnamese. She said that she told him: “If you stop and go away, I won’t call the police or tell anyone.” But Mr Nguyen allegedly stole $360 from the cash register and took off on foot. The shop worker is said to have followed him out the door and alerted two Icon Water employees to the situation, prompting the duo to give chase and corner Mr Nguyen outside Evatt Primary School. “The defendant handed money over to [one of the men] and lifted his shirt to show that he had no more on him,” police allege. “[The Icon Water employees] observed the defendant to have scar-like marks on the right of his stomach just above the belt line.” Police say Mr Nguyen eventually escaped after telling the two men that he was “doing it tough”. Investigating officers claim that they subsequently discovered Mr Nguyen’s fingerprints in areas of the bakery that the robber had been captured touching on CCTV. They raided his home on Sunday morning and found him wearing clothes that matched the description of those worn by the robber. Officers later observed during a forensic procedure at the City Police Station that he also had the same scarring described by the Icon Water employees. But when interviewed by police, Mr Nguyen denied having been to the Evatt shops for at least a month. He applied for bail when he appeared in court on Monday, represented by Legal Aid duty lawyer Kara McKee. Ms McKee noted that while Mr Nguyen did not enter a plea to the charge of aggravated robbery, he had denied the allegation during his police interview. She observed that it had been nearly two years since the last matters on her client’s criminal record, and told the court that he was willing to abide by bail conditions as stringent as house arrest. But prosecutor Kiara Sheridan, opposing bail, said no conditions could ameliorate against the risks posed by the defendant. She said it was worrying that he appeared not to have been deterred when recognised, and that the shop attendant now feared “retribution”. Ms Sheridan questioned what Mr Nguyen might do if released from custody, noting that he was alleged to have told the men who chased him down that he had been desperate. Special Magistrate Margaret Hunter agreed, describing Mr Nguyen’s alleged daylight offending as “brazen”. She also expressed concerns that he appeared to be offending to support “an unaddressed drug problem”, while he had previous convictions for knife possession on his criminal record. Highlighting the strength of the prosecution case, Ms Hunter remanded Mr Nguyen in custody to appear in court again on December 9.



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