A man accused of murdering a Newcastle resident who was out walking his dog tried to rob a petrol station while armed with an improvised explosive device (IED) minutes before the alleged attack, a court has heard.

Zack Mavin, 24, is accused of murdering Robert “Bobby” Palmer, 54, outside a second service station in the Newcastle suburb of Shortland on Saturday night.

Mr Mavin was also charged with attempted robbery armed with an offensive weapon.

He was covered in black spray paint when he applied for bail on Sunday.

The prosecution alleged Mr Mavin had attempted to carry out a chemical attack at the first service station.

Charge sheets tendered in court on Monday alleged Mr Mavin attempted to rob the attendant while armed with an improvised explosive device.

Mr Palmer was fatally stabbed 10 minutes later.

A framed photograph of a man in his 50s, sitting on the bar of a pub.
Locals say the community has been badly shaken by Mr Palmer’s death.(ABC News: Anthony Scully)

‘Legend of the Devils’

Mr Palmer played rugby league for the Shortland Devils in his younger days and volunteered with the club once he hung up his boots.

There has been an outpouring of grief for him on social media.

Ian Docherty remembered his friend as a kind-hearted man.

“Taken too soon,” Mr Docherty wrote.

“Knew him as an all-round top bloke and gentleman.”

Drew Maddison remembered Mr Palmer as a “true gentleman” who was a “legend of the Shorty Devils”.

“You will be missed mate,” he said.

A service station with a football jersey and flowers laid out the front.
A jersey and flowers were placed outside the service station in memory of Mr Palmer.(ABC Newcastle: Anthony Scully)

‘Could have been any of us’

Shortland resident Alison Bowman said the community had been rocked by his death.

“It could have been any of us,” she said.

“I walk my dog at the same time, up and down the same street, and it’s just a great sadness that something like this can happen in our community.

“It’s a small, local, supportive community.

“We know it will affect many people.”

Mr Mavin did not apply for bail and it was formally refused.

He will not front court again until February next year.

Extracted in full from: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-12-14/alleged-newcastle-murderer-armed-with-ied-court-told/12981458