Supreme Court Justice Terry Forrest this morning handed down the lengthy sentence to Christopher Dean Binse.
Binse was sentenced today for robbing $235,000 from an armoured vehicle at gunpoint outside a Laverton hotel in March 2012, and then later holding police at bay — including firing shots at officers.
Justice Forrest said Binse, 45, who has spent most of his life in prison for armed robbery, prison escapes, drug and weapon possession convictions, had a poor prospect of rehabilitation.
“When such crimes are committed they cause terror to those immediately involved and apprehension in the wider community,” Justice Forrest said.
“Your prior record and the gravity of your current offending leads me to conclude the community needs protection from you,” he said.
“There is obviously a powerful need to deter you from re-offending.
After pulling a revolver on officers pursuing him through an Italian restaurant, Binse holed himself up inside the Stirling Rd house and fired several shots at a police vehicle and a robot deployed to the front of his home.
He also fired towards a busy road at the back of the property.
Binse was arrested after confronting police outside his home wearing an armoured vest and carrying a handgun.
Officers fired tear gas into his house and used beanbag ammunition to bring him down.
He had pleaded guilty to six charges involving possessing weapons, theft and reckless conduct endangering life.
The Supreme Court Judge said the guilty pleas were too late and letters of apology sent to the two armed guards bailed up during the armed robbery as self-serving.
“I am unable to conclude you are genuinely remorseful,” Justice Forrest said.
Binse has served 28 of the past 32 years in some form of detention, and was likely to be held in isolation for much of his sentence.
A VIOLENT criminal dubbed “Badness” went on a five-month crime spree, which began with him stalking an enemy he believed shot his bikie mate and culminated in a two-day siege with police in Melbourne’s north-west, a court has heard.
CCTV footage of the May 2012 siege and an earlier terrifying armed robbery perpetrated by Christopher Binse — during which he stole $235,000 from two Armaguard employees in Laverton — was shown to the Supreme Court.
Prosecutor Peter Chadwick, QC, said the 45-year-old fired at least nine shots during the violent 44-hour stand-off with police, with bullets hitting an armoured police vehicle, a police robot, and one travelling through two fences to a busy suburban street in Keilor East.
The siege that gripped Melbourne ended after police used tear gas to force Binse out, before firing beanbag rounds at him as he tried to pick up his discarded revolver, stolen from a guard during the armed robbery.
Police search for bullets and other evidence in East Keilor.
During the siege, police found a cache of weapons — including a fully automatic and semi-automatic machine gun, a rifle with a silencer and modified to fire fully automatic and a sawn-off and loaded shotgun — as well as balaclavas, face masks, ballistic vests and wigs when they searched storage units rented by Binse.
Defence counsel Saul Holt SC said Binse collected the arsenal of weapons because he believed a man, who cannot be named and with whom he shared “bad blood”, shot his mate in an attempted murder and was going to assault him.
Mr Holt said Binse was assaulted “by four bikies” soon after his November 2011 release from prison and spoke about fears to another man, who was later shot dead.
Police at the scene on day 2 of the siege.
The man Binse feared would attack him has been charged with that murder.
Mr Holt said Binse obtained a bag full of weapons to protect himself and his daughter and began wearing a ballistic vest in the days before the siege after attending the same boxing match as Comancheros boss Amad “Jah” Malkoun and underworld figure Mick Gatto.
He said Binse, a “difficult” prisoner who spent most of his time in the restrictive management unit, had spent only a few of his adult years out of jail and had told authorities he was not ready to be released into the community.
Forensic police searching the area around the siege.
“The word institutionalised is possibly made for Christopher Binse,” Mr Holt said.
“He didn’t think he could cope on the outside and he was absolutely right.”
The court heard that in January 2012, Binse began stalking the man he feared would attack him, placing a tracking device on his car, searching public records for information about him and hiring a private investigator.
Christopher Dean Binse.
In the same month, police located an automatic handgun with a silencer and laser pointer in Binse’s car.
In March, Binse committed the armed robbery outside the Westside Hotel in Laverton, telling police he was desperate and needed the cash.
Mr Chadwick said the crime was organised, with Binse cutting fences, creating spyholes and taking equipment prior to the offence to ensure a speedy getaway.
An elderly woman is seen on CCTV footage running from the hotel car park when Binse pointed a sawn-off pump action shotgun at the guards from over a nearby fence.
In the days before the siege, Binse noticed police looking at his motorbike as he was leaving Nidrie La Porchetta and fled the restaurant, showing one officer his revolver and stealing a police radio.
In mid-February, a jury found Binse not guilty of threatening to kill three men during the La Porchetta incident.
Binse pleaded guilty to armed robbery, being a prohibited person using a firearm and being in possession of firearms, reckless conduct placing persons in danger of serious injury and theft.
‘Badness’ Binse was ‘vicious, conniving': police
SOMETIMES the most cunning crooks come undone in the stupidest ways.
Legendary career criminal James Edward ”Jockey” Smith had his own lucrative franchise selling cannabis and amphetamines when he was caught shoplifting a steam iron, kitchen knives and a plastic tray from a NSW Grace Brothers shop in 1992.
He would have faced a fine at worst but instead chose to pull a gun on the store detective and then force a terrified couple to drive him from the scene. On the run, he headed to Victoria where he enlisted the help of career armed robber Christopher Dean Binse, who was then hiding near Daylesford, having escaped from a NSW jail.
Binse with Lee Rhiannon, then a NSW state MP and now a Greens senator, at the 2005 press conference they called to highlight the conditions at the Goulburn jail
Armed robbery squad bugs caught Binse talking to ”Tom”, which was Smith (who used the alias Tom Cummings). A short time later Smith was pulled over by a policeman who suspected the car he was driving was stolen. In the subsequent shootout Smith was killed. All over an $80 theft.
Smith’s mate Binse didn’t learn from Jockey’s mistake. On Sunday he pulled a gun on three detectives at a La Porchetta restaurant in Niddrie while they were checking the registration of his allegedly stolen motorbike.
A few months ago he was pulled up in the country by police and behaved as a perfect gentleman. But this time was different. If police found the gun it would be enough to send him back inside.
From the restaurant he drove to his girlfriend’s home in Sterling Drive, East Keilor, where he has fired more than a dozen shots since the siege began. Rather than respond with force, police planned from the beginning to negotiate and wait him out. They said the girlfriend – who left the house late last night – was not considered a hostage.
There has been some dialogue, which gives some hope. Small conversations have been followed by hours of silence, but as long as there is no immediate threat police are in no hurry. Time, they believe, is on their side.
During sieges, police negotiators often have to profile their subjects on the run. They talk to family, friends and doctors to understand the person they are trying to persuade to be reasonable.
In this case they have the advantage of official reports, psychological profiles, intelligence histories and prison records to assist them. In fact, some of the police now involved have dealt with him personally at different times.
The trouble is, all the evidence shows that Binse has spent a lifetime being unreasonable.
The elite special operations group remains at the scene in case the stalemate escalates to flashpoint. They are not strangers – Binse and the SOG have a 20-year love-hate relationship. The SOG loves to raid him and Binse hates to be arrested. The specialist unit has always been called in because Binse is considered one of the most dangerous gunmen in Australia. Binse, 43, can be charismatic, funny and charming. He once wrote a jolly note to this reporter with a message: ”Here is a kindly proverb you may like to absorb. ‘The trouble with many people who stop to count their blessings is their arithmetic is poor.”’
He is also violent, vindictive and institutionalised. In a later note from inside prison he was less subtle: ”You are a gutter, low-life rodent.”
Neither note made the letters page.
At 14 he was declared uncontrollable and put in the Turana boys home. He has rarely been out of custody since, legally at least.
Binse, who goes by the self-imposed nickname Badness, has tried to escape from custody eight times. In September 1992, he escaped from the St Vincent’s Hospital security ward in Melbourne, using a gun smuggled in by a relative. He was arrested in Sydney, then escaped soon after from the Parramatta jail as prison officers fired shots at him.
The then head of the Victorian armed robbery squad, Detective Senior Sergeant Ray Watson, remembers talking to Binse after his 1992 arrest. ”He seemed detached. I believe his mind was elsewhere, trying to work out an escape plan.”
Watson, now retired, said Binse delighted in taunting the detectives investigating his bank robberies. ”He loved to try and mock us when we were looking for him. Actually we found it quite amusing. But the underlying facts are that he was a vicious, spitting cobra who has not changed his ways. We are all better off when he is inside a secure prison.”
After one of his many Melbourne armed robberies, police didn’t need to look far to identify the likely suspect. Binse took out a classified advertisement in the Herald Sun announcing ”Badness is back”.
He bought a Queensland country property with robbery money and named his spread ”Badlands”. He drove a car with the personalised number plates ”Badness”. He sent Melbourne armed robbery squad detectives Christmas cards with messages such as ”wish you were here” and one covered with dollar signs. Police said one of the greetings was signed ”Lord Badness”.
While he would intimidate bank staff and customers (once firing a shot to keep order), he would change when he was handed the money, often saying ”thank you very much” before leaving.
He often flew in from interstate to commit well-planned stick-ups. After one bank job he was nabbed at Melbourne Airport carrying an $89 stand-by ticket.
”I don’t believe in plastic money, I want the real stuff. If you hadn’t caught me at the airport, you would have had nothing. I know that,” he explained to detectives.
Certainly, having seen first-hand the security of banks, he preferred more rustic hiding spots for his armed robbery proceeds.
When his dog (a pit bull, naturally) was treated at a NSW veterinary clinic, a staff member later commented the $312 cash payment smelled ”musty, as if it had been buried”. The nurse later identified the dog’s owner as Binse from a police picture. ”He tried to chat me up,” she said.
He bought luxury cars, motorbikes (breaking his leg when he came off during a police chase) and land. On his birthday he hired a $400 limousine to drive around Melbourne with a couple of mates.
He was generous with his friends but many thought he was always close to snapping, one saying years ago: ”He’s gone right off. He’s crazy and always tooled up and dangerous.”
A prison source said his behaviour had deteriorated alarmingly. ”He used to have a sense of humor but he became a ranter and raver. I would think he is one of the five most dangerous men in Australia. I would be genuinely frightened if I saw him on the street.”
Binse was a proficient armed robber but he knew he was likely to be caught or killed. When police found his ballistic vest, he expected that if he was cornered they would aim at his unprotected skull, taking ”headshots, headshots, don’t aim for the body, aim for the head”.
Police were particularly concerned when they found a tank-piercing rifle in his substantial armoury.
When he was finally arrested, he became quite chatty with detectives, saying: ”Now I’ve got to do it hard. I enjoyed myself. I had a good time. I’ve got some good memories.”
He told them the money was only part of the motivation.
He did the raids, he said, ”for the excitement, the rush. Lifestyle, you’d have to know what it feels like. It’s like you on a raid, you’re in control, your blood starts rushing, you feel grouse, you’re hyped up. F… the money. It’s more than excitement, it’s an addiction. I don’t know what it is.
”Time’s going by, quick, quick, quick, and you’re just thinking, what happens if you see a police car?
”Most of the time, 95 per cent, I saw a Jack [police] car drive past or saw a Jack car within 10 minutes of the job. It was my good-luck sign. It’s already been through, it won’t come back, it’s going in a different direction.”
When police asked if he took drugs or alcohol before a raid, he laughed and said he would have a salad roll or an egg-and-bacon sandwich.
He told detectives he was religious. ”I believe in God, I used to pray every day in Sydney. You’ve got to have some beliefs, mate. If you believe He’s there, He may help you. I can tell you what, there were a few close calls that I had. If it was meant to be, I would have been dead by now.”
When asked by a detective ”what makes Chris Binse tick?” he responded: ”I wouldn’t know myself. You’ll never know and neither will I.”
Now police at East Keilor are trying to answer that same question.