A security guard who was handcuffed and had a bag placed over his head as five men stole $2.3 million in a Melbourne van heist had to be placed into a nursing home when he was just 49 years old, a court has been told.
Pasquale Lanciana, 63, whom a jury found either organised or participated in the 1994 robbery, falsely imprisoned the guards, and laundered the cash spoils, on Monday faced a pre-sentence hearing at the Victorian County Court.
One of the robbers, who had all posed as road workers, politely told security guard Michael West that he would be safe.
They even took off his wristwatch as they handcuffed him and placed it next to him, making it clear they only wanted the money being transported from the Reserve Bank.
But the incident, as well as years of suspicion from his colleagues that it was an inside job, which allegedly led to him being bashed while at work, left Mr West, who died in 2017, with night terrors and depression.
“They robbed the van but they also robbed my family of a fun-loving man,” his son, Craig West, said in a statement.
“He became a shadow of himself – unrecognisable. The face that once before made you feel protected was lost.”
Craig West, eight years old at the time, and his six-year-old sister, had to learn a “strict routine” that was “forever changing” whenever they stayed with their father from that point.
They were allowed only 10 minutes to go to shops, and could never play with other children or join in weekend sport, as their father saw danger everywhere.
“He would wake up with night terrors, screaming words, and furniture thrown around the rooms,” Craig West said.
The former Armaguard security guard would later file for bankruptcy before being diagnosed with high blood pressure and diabetes.
He was placed into a nursing home at 49 and died aged 62.
The court was previously told Lanciana laundered his share of the stolen cash, including by using $400,000 to pay for a block of land at Williamstown.
In May, he was convicted after a retrial of seven counts of money laundering and one each of armed robbery and false imprisonment.
On Monday, prosecutor Jim Shaw said the “brazen” heist was a sophisticated operation that was professionally carried out in just minutes in broad daylight.
Mr Shaw said the thieves wore goggles and helmets, had set up witches’ hats and a road works sign, and started up a concrete saw to distract the van driver when they pulled up.
Lanciana was arrested in 2016. He spent two-and-a-half years in custody before receiving bail when the jury at his first trial in 2019 could not reach a verdict.
His barrister, Nola Karapanagiotidis, said the former kickboxer had already served 1028 days in custody, was suffering from depression and anxiety, and feared he may not see his 97-year-old mother again.
“Really he tried to get away with it and he didn’t,” Judge Michael O’Connell said.
Judge O’Connell will sentence Lanciana, who remains in custody, at a later date.