A WOULD-BE robber allegedly unveiled his masked face during a hold-up and tried to convince the cashier it was a prank when he knew police were on their way.

Binyam Teklemariam, 21, has been charged with attempted robbery and assault after he was arrested minutes after the bungled hold-up at Caltex service station in Footscray on Sunday.

But Mr Teklemariam is fighting the charges in the Melbourne Magistrates Court, saying he never intended to rob the store and had gone there to buy a drink and decided to play a joke.

An unimpressed Magistrate Franz Holzer said it was a “very flimsy” defence.

“I might say it’s a pretty sick joke,” Magistrate Holzer said. “Put yourself in the shoes of the store person.”

Mr Teklemariam pleaded with the magistrate to watch the security footage.

“If you see the video, you’ll change your mind,” he said.

“I made a dumb mistake. I don’t want my family to have a bad name.”

But police argue the CCTV clearly captures Mr Teklemariam’s actions and tells a different story.

Police prosecutor Mark Sontag said Mr Teklemariam only backed out of the robbery when he saw the attendant press the duress button.

“He changed his tack, so to speak,” Mr Sontag said. “He reveals himself, says it is a joke and tries to negotiate some kind of resolution with the victim.”

He said Mr Teklemariam covered his face with his hoodie so only his eyes were showing before he entered the store.

“He makes a beeline for the counter,” Mr Sontag said.

The victim was stocking fridges when Mr Teklemariam entered the Gordon St store just before midnight and demanded he hand over cash.

When the terrified worker pressed the duress button, Mr Teklemariam has allegedly pulled his hood back and said “I’m only joking, mate” before trying to shake his hand.

A police patrol car nearby responded and Mr Teklemariam was arrested at the scene.

Despite Magistrate Holzer saying it was an “ambitious” fight against the charges, he set down a contest hearing for March 1.

Extracted from Courier Mail.