‘Rocked to the core’: Alleged murder at servo

BOB Palmer had spent the day welcoming both his children home after months apart before he set off for an evening stroll to stretch the legs of his Labrador puppy and grab a kebab for dinner.

He never made it home.

Instead, police will allege Mr Palmer was stabbed to death by a face-painted stranger who had already let off one “chloroform bomb” during a failed attempt at a service station armed robbery and was on his way to try his luck at another one.

Police allege that Zack Mavin, 24, plunged the large chef’s knife into Mr Palmer’s abdomen following a brief altercation between the pair outside the second service station at Shortland, near Newcastle, on Saturday night.

Police will allege that Mavin then walked off while wiping blood off the 25cm blade as Mr Palmer, 54, collapsed and bled to death in front of stunned onlookers.

Police said Mavin was tasered outside his house, located just 190 metres away from where the incident occurred, shortly afterwards following a brief standoff with officers.

Shortland community member Robert ‘Bob’ Palmer was killed at a service station at Shortland on December 12. Supplied

He was charged with murder and refused bail. He faced Newcastle Bail Court on Sunday with black paint still plastered across the bridge of his nose and his forehead.

The police case is that Mavin had spray-painted his legs, arms, hands and face black and was about to attempt a hold up at the Metro service station when Mr Palmer crossed his path.

Police allege that CCTV shows Mr Palmer defending himself, connecting one punch to Mavin’s chin before Mavin is alleged to have stumbled back, pulled out the knife and stabbed the older man.

It came only minutes after Mavin is alleged to have attempted to rob the 7-Eleven service station about 100m along Sandgate Road while disguised by the paint and wearing a dark hoodie.

The scene of the Newcastle stabbing at the Metro Service Station on Sandgate Road, Shortland. Picture by Peter Lorimer.

It is alleged Mavin had threatened the 7-Eleven attendant with what the employee was told was a “chloroform bomb’’ — two containers filled with liquid, which were combined inside the store and allegedly set alight via some material that had been placed inside one of the containers.

Police said that despite smoke billowing through the business, Mavin allegedly left empty-handed. Police said he then walked down Sandgate Rd on his way to the second service station where he encountered Mr Palmer.

Officers searching Mavin’s bedroom seized a range of paraphernalia allegedly used in making a range of substances.

The alleged murder has prompted an outpouring of emotion in Shortland, a western Newcastle suburb that residents say has been “rocked to the core”.

Mr Palmer was a stalwart of the Shortland Devils Rugby League football club for about 40 years and news of his death sent shockwaves through the sporting community.

“Everyone loved Bobby, pretty easy going character,” Devils president Brock Johnson said. “(He was) player, coach and volunteer and even as recent as this year would mow our fields with a hand mower after our ride-on was stolen.”

Malacai Austin, who had known Mr Palmer for years, said they’d always have a laugh together. “He was such a good bloke, he was always happy, loved walking his dog and was well known within the community,” he said.

The scene of the Newcastle stabbing at the Metro Service Station on Sandgate Road, Shortland. Picture by Peter Lorimer.

Metro staff, who described the 54-year-old as a regular, were shocked.

“He was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” an employee said. “The Metro crew is terribly saddened.”

The Devils RLFC said it planned to have a celebration of his life next year.

At court Mavin applied for bail with his lawyer saying he would live with his mother.

But police prosecutor Joergen Drabe said he had tried to flee after the alleged stabbing and had made admissions.

“The initial robbery attempt was a chemical attack as a threat, so there is concern further offences would occur,” he said.

“He’s an unacceptable risk and no bail conditions would be able to mitigate that.”

The court registrar remanded Mavin in custody to appear in court on Monday.

Extracted from Daily Telegraph

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