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Bombshell sees heist charges dropped

CCTV of a silver Toyota Camry believed to have been used as a getaway car following the alleged armed robbery of a Dandenong jewellery store on December 29 last year. Picture: Victoria Police.
CCTV of a silver Toyota Camry believed to have been used as a getaway car following the alleged armed robbery of a Dandenong jewellery store on December 29 last year. Picture: Victoria Police.

Police have dropped charges against two men over an alleged jewellery store heist as a court was told they were allegedly paid to stage the robbery.

Kamran Orouji, 67, and Masoud Izadi, 61, were originally charged with armed robbery back in February after they were accused of storming Zara Jewellers in Dandenong on December 29 last year.

At the time investigators claimed more than $2m worth of cash and gold had been stolen from the store, including gold necklaces, bracelets, pendants and rings.

But as the duo returned before the Melbourne Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, a crown prosecutor asked the court to withdraw all charges against both men.

Charges dropped after about $2.5 million in cash, gold necklaces, bracelets, pendants and rings were allegedly stolen from Zara Jewellers in Dandenong. Picture: 7 NEWS
Charges dropped after about $2.5 million in cash, gold necklaces, bracelets, pendants and rings were allegedly stolen from Zara Jewellers in Dandenong. Picture: 7 NEWS
Two men were allegedly paid to stage the robbery as part of an insurance fraud scheme, the court was told. Picture: Tiktok/ zarajewellers
Two men were allegedly paid to stage the robbery as part of an insurance fraud scheme, the court was told. Picture: Tiktok/ zarajewellers

The prosecutor told the court the pair had been unwilling to assist police after their arrest on February 1 — providing a “no comment” interview — but later provided separate statements in June and July.

“They did not dissuade police when given the opportunity,” the prosecutor said.

The court was told the statements alleged the complainant had paid Mr Orouji and Mr Izadi to stage a robbery as part of an insurance scam.

The duo had been to Bunnings earlier the same day, purchasing items “designed to give an impression that the robbery had occurred”.

In a public appeal for information shared after the alleged robbery, Victoria Police said detectives were told the two men entered the store about 6pm, assaulting and threatening a staff member with a knife.

“The [alleged] victim was then tied up with his hands bound and his mouth gagged as the offenders set about robbing the store,” a spokesman said.

Police investigation remains ongoing into alleged armed robbery of Dandenong jewellery store. Picture: Victoria Police.
Police investigation remains ongoing into alleged armed robbery of Dandenong jewellery store. Picture: Victoria Police.

Magistrate Malcolm Thomas said the insurance fraud allegation had placed the case into “very interesting and unique circumstances” before agreeing to dismiss the charges.

After all charges were withdrawn against her client, Mr Orouji’s lawyer said they would be seeking recovery of the costs spent on legal representation — estimated to be about $10,536.

In a statement following the decision, police confirmed no further charges had been laid over the alleged robbery but the investigation remains “ongoing”.