Benjamin John Gibbs fails to appear in Newcastle District Court to enter plea in relation to assault and robbery of former test cricketer Robert "Dutchy" Holland

ACCUSED: Benjamin Gibbs, left, leaving Toronto Local Court after his first court appearance in September last year. He failed to appear in Newcastle District Court on Thursday.
ACCUSED: Benjamin Gibbs, left, leaving Toronto Local Court after his first court appearance in September last year. He failed to appear in Newcastle District Court on Thursday.

A MAN accused of bashing and robbing the late Robert “Dutchy” Holland has failed to appear in Newcastle District Court on the day he was expected to plead guilty. 

Benjamin John Gibbs, 32, of Heaton Street, Awaba, was a no-show in court on Thursday after his matter was re-listed so he could be arraigned and plead guilty to two serious offences of aggravated robbery and inflict actual bodily harm and reckless grievous bodily harm. 

The charge of aggravated robbery and inflict actual bodily harm carries a maximum of 20 years in jail and it’s believed the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) was going to apply to have Mr Gibbs bail revoked after he entered his guilty plea. 

Robert "Dutchy" Holland after the alleged assault.

Robert "Dutchy" Holland after the alleged assault.

Mr Gibbs and his partner Tiffany Pandel, 22, are accused of assaulting and robbing Mr Holland, an Australian Test cricket legend, and his wife, Carolyn Holland, at Awaba Oval on August 27 last year.

Mr Holland died on September 17 this year after a battle with brain cancer. He was 70.

Mr Gibbs’s solicitor, Mark Ramsland, told Judge Tanya Bright he had been unable to get in touch with his client on Thursday morning.

“My difficulty is he simply has not answered his phone and I've written to him but he hasn't responded,” Mr Ramsland said. 

Mr Gibbs was called twice by court staff, once at 10.45am and then again at 11.15am, but did not appear.

However, Judge Bright stopped short of issuing a warrant for his arrest because Mr Gibbs was not in breach of his bail. 

The court heard that during a previous court appearance Mr Gibbs’s bail had been continued until October 26, the callover ahead of his trial date on October 30. 

Mr Gibbs and Ms Pandel are accused of robbing and bashing Mr Holland and his wife after Mr Holland, who was the secretary of the Awaba Ovals board, told them not to ride their dirt bike on the oval on August 27 last year.

“I feel like bashing you,” Mr Gibbs is alleged to have told Mr Holland.

Mrs Holland began recording the incident, which allegedly prompted Mr Gibbs to jump on his motorbike and accelerate at her before breaking a short distance away, causing the rear-wheel of the bike to knock her to the ground. 

Ms Pandel then allegedly approached Mrs Holland, who was still on the ground, and kicked her once in the face and seven or eight times in the body before taking her mobile phone and walking away.

Mr Holland went to his wife’s aid, but was allegedly punched in the mouth by Mr Gibbs. He landed on his injured right shoulder before Mr Gibbs allegedly kicked him three or four times in the body and ribs. 

Mr Holland claims he took out his mobile phone to take a photo of Mr Gibbs, who allegedly took the phone off him and kicked him three or four more times. 

Ms Pandel has also pleaded not guilty to aggravated robbery and inflict actual bodily harm.

Her matter was not listed on Thursday and is set down for trial on October 30.