Launceston TRC Hotel bandit’s record revealed

A MAN who terrorised staff at Launceston’s TRC Hotel in May has a criminal record in four states and once threatened to kill someone.

Michael John Cowie was found guilty on Wednesday of an aggravated robbery at the Paterson Street business.

Cowie had been charged with aggravated armed robbery following the break-in on May 1, with the state alleging he was carrying a knife.

He pleaded not guilty to the charge, stating he was not armed, but he confessed to being the culprit.

The defence had argued the state did not have enough evidence to prove he was carrying a knife and therefore the jury could only convict him of aggravated robbery – not the greater charge of aggravated armed robbery.

In his closing address, Crown prosecutor Peter Sherriff pointed to three frames from CCTV footage of the crime where the suggested jury members might be able to identify an object in Cowie’s hand.

After just over two hours of deliberations, the jury ruled in Cowie’s favour and found him guilty of aggravated robbery only.

The “usual” case concluded with Mr Sherriff revealing that Cowie had also been charged in Western Australia, Victoria and South Australia.

And at the time of TRC Hotel robbery, Cowie had only been out of Risdon Prison for five weeks.

Cowie’s lawyer Alan Hensley said his client’s offending was the result of a long-term drug addiction.

“He’s not a man who is beyond rehabilitation. (He just needs to) get on top of his drug use,” Mr Hensley told Justice Shan Tennent.

Mr Hensley said Cowie had effectively pleaded guilty to the charge he was found guilty of and had expressed remorse “from the get-go”.

On Tuesday, the jury watched Cowie’s recorded police interview where he confessed to robbing the hotel and assaulting a female staff member in the head from behind.

During the interview he apologised to the two women who were opening the hotel that morning.

Justice Tennent said she felt there was little chance of Cowie being rehabilitated, unless he received the help he needed for addiction.

After receiving submissions from Mr Sherriff and Mr Hensley, Justice Tennent adjourned sentencing until October 27.

She told Cowie – who has been in custody since May 3 – that he was “not going to be released when he’s sentenced”.