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Pasquale Lanciana jailed for 14 years over 1994 Armaguard hold-up

Lanciana also paid $400,000 cash for a Williamstown property in a deal arranged by solicitor John Anile, who was jailed last year. The jury in Lanciana’s first trial, in 2019, failed to reach a verdict.

Judge O’Connell said the second jury’s verdict showed it was satisfied of Lanciana’s involvement, and the judge on Friday found that role was significant based on the amount of money laundered in the property deal, the remarks to Witness O and because all five gang members played important parts.

Pasquale Lanciana at the time of his arrest in 2016.

Pasquale Lanciana at the time of his arrest in 2016.Credit:Jason South

The trial failed to determine the specific roles of the gang members, how they obtained the key that opened the van doors and what they did with the loot, but Judge O’Connell said the crime was extremely serious given the sophisticated planning and military-style execution, its brazenness, the amount stolen and the impact on the victims.

Judge O’Connell said the circumstances of the heist might have “lent itself to a Hollywood film”, the impact on guards Michael West, Robert Brewer and John Johnston was immense. The trio endured trauma for years afterwards and were regarded with suspicion by colleagues over an assumption they were involved.

“This offence had a marked effect on these men and those close to them,” the judge said. The guards have all since died.

Mr Johnston told police at the time: “I feared for my life and I did as I was told. No person had permission to treat me in this manner.”

Mr West’s son, Craig, recalled at a hearing last month being eight years old when he began witnessing changes in his father, who became hyper-vigilant, paranoid and plagued by nightmares.

“My dad, being a big and strong fella, my all-time superhero, would wake up from night terrors screaming at the top of his lungs, sweating and crying uncontrollably, running and hiding behind furniture saying, ‘Don’t shoot, don’t shoot’,” Craig West wrote in an impact statement.

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A family member of another guard wrote: “It changed him and it ruined our family.”

Lanciana has past convictions for assault, cannabis trafficking and theft, and was once considered a suspect in the 1984 murder of his first wife, Maryanna, the court heard. That crime remains unsolved.

But character references said he was a dedicated and generous man who used to care for his elderly mother and now mentored and trained young inmates. The judge acknowledged he had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression and there was a long period between being under investigation to his sentence.

Lanciana has already served almost three years prison, either on remand or awaiting sentence.

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