A Sunshine Coast court has heard the downward spiral of a once promising lawn bowls professional who narrowly avoided jail time after robbing a service station and terrorising a staff member.

Maroochydore District Court was told on Monday, March 13 how Joel Benjamin Andersen, now 26, was a professional lawn bowler between the ages of 18 and 21, but had quite the downfall after spending time behind bars, as he narrowly avoided going back to prison.

The court was told Andersen approached a server at a Buddina Coles Service Station at 2.40am on March 22, 2022, and slammed his wallet onto the counter before calmly demanding all of the money out of the till.

Crown prosecutor Madalyn Olivero said the employee, a 43-year-old woman, first thought Andersen was joking until he said he was “f—ing serious”.

He then threw a punch towards the woman’s face, but struck the plastic dividing screen between them instead and caused it to detach, narrowly missing her.

Terrified, the worker complied and handed over approximately $120 from the till and handed over 30 packets of cigarettes, which Andersen demanded after being told the worker could not access the other till.

“When she gave the items to him he calmly exited the store,” Ms Olivero said.

Andersen made no attempt to conceal his identity. The event was captured on CCTV and his fingerprints were found on the countertop.

He was arrested at his home less than eight hours later, Ms Olivero said, and the $120 was found in his wallet as well as two packets of cigarettes.

The employee has since changed jobs, the court was told.

Andersen spent 137 days in presentence custody after he was released on bail for the offending in August 2022.

Defence barrister Nathan Turner said his client was a professional lawn bowler between the ages of 18 to 21 and was now working as a bartender.

Mr Turner said Andersen was in the grips of a “dual addiction” – gambling and alcohol – at the time of the offence; and had lost a lot of money at a nearby hotel prior to the robbery.

He told the court Andersen was intoxicated at the time and went to the service station, in hindsight, to get more money but could not recall. He never intended to be violent, Mr Turner said.

Since being released from custody Andersen had attempted to get himself into rehab, but was not accepted into any facilities, Mr Turner said.

Andersen pleaded guilty to one charge of robbery, and was sentenced by Judge Gary Long to two years and nine months behind bars with the 137 days spent in presentence custody declared time served.

He was granted immediate parole.

A conviction was recorded.

Extracted in full from: https://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/sunshine-coast/police-courts/joel-benjamin-andersen-in-court-for-robbing-buddina-service-station/news-story/2b1a02793c852e9d399570755af8ab7b