Two years shaved off sentence for blood-filled syringe spree

AN Ipswich woman has had a win it the state's highest court which deemed her eight-year sentence for armed robberies with a blood-filled syringe to be manifestly excessive.

It ruled that the initial sentence be overturned and be replaced with a six-year stint behind bars.

Maree Sharelle Leighton pleaded guilty in the Ipswich District Court in December last year to a host of charges including several armed robbery, assault, stealing and drug offences stemming from a six-day crime spree in 2012.

The court heard that on one occasion Leighton and a co-offender followed a woman into the lifts at a Brisbane carpark before producing a syringe and telling the terrified woman they had AIDS.

The two demanded the woman's money, credit cards and licence before telling her not to go to the police because they knew where she lived and they did not want to have to hurt her children.

Leighton was sentenced to eight years behind bars with the sentencing judge describing the offending as despicable, premeditated, persistent, opportunistic and determined.

Leighton appealed the sentence to the Queensland Court of Appeal on the grounds the sentence she received was manifestly excessive, the judge failed to take into account mitigating circumstances and the judge failed to properly take into account, or made a factual error about, the time she had spent in custody.

Queensland Court of Appeal president Margaret McMurdo, in delivering the court's determination on Friday, agreed the sentence was too harsh when taking into account several factors including prospects for rehabilitation, an early guilty plea and the courts requirement not to hand down crushing sentences.

"None of the cases to which counsel referred support a sentence as high as eight years for offending of this kind after an early guilty plea and such a lengthy period of presentence custody," she said.

"It seems that the judge erred not taking into account in a general way the fact that the applicant had been in custody serving a sentence on another matter for 11 months after her arrest on these charges. "

The court ordered a new parole date of May 12, 2015, to be set instead of the initial parole eligibility date of December 12, 2015.

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