Cole and his former partner Shailee Jane Kingston got matching tattoos after robbing a Gold Coast surf club.
Cole and his former partner Shailee Jane Kingston got matching tattoos after robbing a Gold Coast surf club. Contributed

Sentence slashed for violent armed robber

A SERIAL armed robber, who held up a Rockhampton bank just weeks after being released from jail, could be back on the streets in 15 months.

John Robert Cole, 34, has a 42-page criminal history littered with serious offences committed across NSW and Queensland. He has previously escaped jail twice.

In 2011 he and his then partner Shailee Jane Kingston made headlines after they celebrated their $18,000 robbery of a Gold Coast surf club by getting matching tattoos that read "partners in crime".

Cole had held up a cashier with a knife and demanded the money while Kingston kept watch from an apartment across the road.

The pair claimed they had used the money to pay a bounty on his head at the Springwood Tavern after he was shot for testifying against a Finks motorcycle gang member.

They were arrested soon after and Cole was eventually sentenced in Ipswich District Court to four years jail.

He was on parole for that offence when he went into a Rockhampton bank in January last year, told staff he had a gun and demanded money from a young teller who handed over almost $10,000.

Westpac Stockland Rockhampton robbery cctv
Westpac Stockland Rockhampton robbery cctv

The teller fainted during the ordeal and was left traumatised.

Cole went on to spend the money on poker machines, a $3200 BMW and $900 of sportswear and shoes.

Cole was caught when he ran into the Westpac bank manager at the Rockhampton Stockland.

He was sentenced to nine years jail after a jury found him guilty of armed robbery.

The sentencing judge ordered the term be served concurrently with the time Cole was already serving for the Gold Coast robbery but the Queensland Court of Appeal this week determined the sentences must be served cumulatively.

Cole had appealed the sentence on the grounds the total jail term was excessive.

The appeal court agreed and re-sentenced Cole from nine years to four and a half years jail.

He must serve this jail time on top of the Gold Coast sentence instead of at the same time.

Cole will be eligible to apply for parole on February 20, 2018, instead of December 21, 2020.