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Criminals inked with evidence

Police took this photo of Shailee Jane Kingston's tattoo.
Police took this photo of Shailee Jane Kingston's tattoo. Contributed

AN IPSWICH couple who stole almost $18,000 in an armed robbery were caught after they celebrated their heist with a pair of matching tattoos.

John Robert Cole, 30, and Shailee Jane Kingston, 19, both had each other's names tattooed on their skin - above wads of cash and with the words "Partner in Crime" emblazoned beneath.

The giveaway clues proved handy for detectives investigating the knife-point robbery at the Northcliffe Surf Club at Surfers Paradise.

Police were put on Kingston's trail after the mother of one of her friends reported the teenager had been boasting about her crime on Facebook.

And when officers arrested Kingston and quizzed her about her tattoo, she tearfully confessed her role in the robbery - and said she and her boyfriend had decided to get the tattoos to mark the success of their hold-up.

Ipswich District Court was told the pair acted with "enthusiastic bravado" by getting the tattoos.

Defence barrister Malcolm Harrison said that to describe Kingston as "dreadfully immature" would be "an understatement".

"To have his name tattooed on her defies belief," he added.

The court heard the pair took a train to the Gold Coast from Ipswich on September 27 because Cole intended to "do a job".

When they arrived, Cole sent Kingston to the Northcliffe Surf Club at Surfers Paradise to scout the premises and let him know how many people were inside.

That night Cole robbed the cashier while armed with a 30cm knife, fleeing with $17,973. Kingston kept watch from the 18th floor of an adjacent hotel where the pair was staying.

Cole hid the money near a tennis court to retrieve later.

Crown prosecutor John Copley told Ipswich District Court the lasting effects on the staff at the tavern had been significant, and Cole had "menaced" his victims of the robbery with the knife.

Cole pleaded guilty to armed robbery in company and was sentenced to four and a half years prison. With time already served he will be eligible to apply for parole on August 20, 2013.

Kingston pleaded guilty to armed robbery in company and was sentenced to three years' prison and released on immediate parole.

A victim impact statement by the tavern staff member Cole robbed said she still suffered psychological effects from the crime.

Cole's defence barrister, Steve Kissick, said his client had robbed the tavern to "pay a bounty on his head" after he testified against a Finks motorcycle gang member who shot him.

He said Cole was told he needed to pay $10,000 to an associate of the shooter, who was now in jail, or they would hurt his mother and son.

Cole has a 42-page criminal history, including twice escaping from prison and previous offences of burglary.

Mr Harrison said Kingston had never been a concern for her parents until she met Cole.

He also revealed that Kingston was now pregnant, prompting Judge Deborah Richards to say she was "not sure if getting pregnant when she was about to be sentenced for armed robbery was a mitigating factor".

Topics:  crime, ipswich district court, northcliffe, police, robbery, tattoo


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