By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Two Finks outlaw motorcycle gang members have been jailed over a violent break-in and extortion attempt in Cranbourne West in March 2020.
Joshua Phillips, 36, of Rosebud, and Henry Stowers, 24, of Hampton Park, pleaded guilty in the Victorian County Court to storming the house’s master bedroom with two other armed men to recover an alleged debt.
The pair pleaded guilty to offences including aggravated burglary, extortion, theft, intentionally causing injury and property damage.
Stowers, who was raised in Pakenham, had made three weeks of demands and threats to the Aquatic Drive resident.
At one stage, the victim was told by an unknown male caller to pay “10K by tomorrow or I will put a f***ing bullet in you, you f***ing dog”.
On the night of 26 March, Stowers and Phillips arrived in a stolen Toyota Kluger while the resident and his partner were in bed.
During the two-minute attack, the intruders kicked the locked bedroom door, then smashed it in half with a baseball bat.
All four intruders were masked and carrying weapons including a switch-blade knife, bear mace, a taser, a hand gun and a sawn-off .22-calibre bolt-action rifle.
Stowers demanded “the money” before trying to hit the resident with a baseball bat and to spray him with the mace, as well as punching him to the face.
Another intruder tried to stab the resident in the stomach.
Two males stood behind Stowers and pointed guns at the victim. Stowers demanded the resident sign over the title of his car.
Another man living at the house was pursued by an intruder in a ski mask and carrying a taser.
He fled out his bedroom window to a neighbour’s house and called police.
Soon after, the intruders left.
Phillips had been on bail at the time, and unlicensed while driving the Kluger.
On his Snapchat account, Phillips had posed with a mask and baseball bat and sawn-off rifle.
He was found with a Maserati Traguardo watch stolen from the home.
In sentencing on 17 September, County Court judge Felicity Hampel said there was little difference in the pair’s culpability.
Although it appeared to be Stowers’ operation, Phillips was an “enthusiastic” assistant who surveiled the house and added extra “muscle”.
Both accused men had a “significant history of violence and anti-social behaviour”.
Neither were “beyond redemption” but both needed to “take a long hard look at yourself”.
New Zealand-born Sowers arrived in Australia at nine but never became an Australian permanent resident or citizen.
The father-of-three’s visa has been cancelled and he faced likely deportation and separation from his family.
Sowers was “trading on your known association with the Finks ”to instill “real fear” in his victim.
His alleged intoxication with booze and ‘ice’ at the time didn’t reduce his culpability, Judge Hampel said.
Phillips, with a history of substance abuse and mental health issues, was a “follower rather than a leader”. But he was old and experienced enough to know better, the judge said.
For much of his adult life, he’d shown little regard for the law or the rights of others, Judge Hampel said.
Phillips was jailed for up to seven-and-a-half years, including a six-year non-parole period.
He had served 448 days of his term in pre-sentence remand.
Stowers was sentenced to up to nine-and-a-half years, with a seven-and-a-half year non-parole period.
His term included 515 days’ pre-sentence detention.