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Mother jailed for taking toddler on armed robbery spree

A getaway driver who took her three-year-old son with her to two armed robberies committed by the boy's father was jailed for a minimum 22 months today.

Jane Van Der Weyden, 26, had waited outside in a red Ford Laser with her son for her boyfriend, James Peart, and another man to hold up the Ivanhoe Hotel and the Yarra Valley Country Club.

The couple pleaded guilty in the County Court today to a series of charges, including their involvement in the armed robberies.

Peart was jailed for a minimum three years and six months.

Judge Lisa Hannan said it was disturbing the couple had taken their son with them on the robberies.

''How you could have had your infant child in the car is nothing short of astounding,'' she said.


Prosecutor Catharine Sedgwick had earlier told the court Van Der Weyden drove Peart, 24, and another man to the Ivanhoe Hotel on Wednesday, September 28 last year at about 10.30pm knowing they were armed and intended to commit a robbery. Her son, 3, was in the car with them.

The two men wearing balaclavas entered the hotel gaming room and demanded money.

Peart was armed with a baseball bat and the other man had a sawn-off double-barreled shotgun.

Gaming attendant Hannah Peat later told police the robbery ''felt surreal''.

"It is the most terrifying thing to happen to me,'' she said.

Gaming supervisor Sandra Sugars said the gun was pointed at her during the robbery and she felt terrified and shaken and feared for her life.

The two men escaped with $3471 and were driven away by Van Der Weyden.

Three days later Van Der Weyden drove the two men to the Yarra Valley Country Club. Again the toddler was in the car.

Peart was armed with a machete and the other man had the sawn-off shotgun.

During the robbery Peart, a former Geelong Grammar student who became a heroin addict and tattoo artist, walked up and down the gaming floor with the machete telling patrons: "Keep playing your machines ... don't move, don't turn around. Everybody shut up and keep looking straight".

The two men escaped with $53,800 from the safe and $500 in coins. They used the money to go on a drugs binge for weeks.

Van Der Weyden again drove them away from the club.

When Peart was later arrested after a police pursuit, he told police the robberies ''were something I would never have thought I would have done''.

He said the first robbery ''couldn't have gone any smoother - and that's why I was dumb enough to go along on the second one''.

Peart has not seen his son since his arrest and his six-year relationship with Van Der Weyden is over.