Ice-addled teen racks up 42 offences after servo robbery

HE MAY be just 15 but a troubled youth who wielded a knife in a service station robbery already had 42 entries on his history, an Ipswich court heard this week.

A judge in Ipswich Children's Court heard the youth came from a deprived background and was using the drug ice at the time.

Seated at the bar table with his legal team, clad in a grey tracksuit and thongs, the teen pleaded guilty to committing an armed robbery when in company at a service station in Redbank on December 18.

Crown prosecutor Farook Anoozer said the youth had spent 37 days in custody for the robbery and 38 days (75 in total, including Christmas) for a breach of his bail.

He was aged 14-and-a-half when he committed the robbery while wielding a knife.

Mr Anoozer said the youth began offending in November 2017 and committed crimes every month between March and December 2018.

Offences include 14 charges for wilful damage and one for wilful damage by graffiti, all at a care house where he was living.

"When admonished he would lash out at his carer or property," Mr Anoozer said.

"Windows and doors were damaged. He threw objects at a television (damaged) and a stereo."

In one incident the youth was charged with assault causing bodily harm after punching another child in the face at the care facility.

The youth has a total of three charges of assault causing bodily harm (one inflicted on a government case worker) and six charges of common assault.

Mr Anoozer said the armed robbery occurred when the youth entered a service station just before 6pm while armed with a knife and stole food.

"He did not use the knife but made it clear he was armed - he showed the knife," he said.

A Youth Justice report before Judge Dennis Lynch QC said the youth had an autism spectrum disorder and ADHD, along with an anti-social disorder and illicit substance misuse.

It found he had limited remorse and empathy for his victims. The Crown sought a detention order.

The robbery victim, a female console operator at the service station, did not want to take part in a Restorative Justice Order (which usually involved face-to-face contact with the accused to explain the personal impact of the crime).

Mr Anoozer said the offence was serious and brazen, with people needing to feel safe at their workplace.

Defence barrister Nathan Edridge sought a supervised probation order of 12-18 months, with no custodial time.

"It was somewhat amateurish," Mr Edridge said.

"There was no disguise and (the offender) was hungry at the time. There was no violence, he was more or less homeless.

"He has a deprived background. There was also drug use (in the home) and he was put into a care home."

Mr Edridge said the diagnosis of mental health conditions also reduced the teen's moral culpability.

There had also been some physical abuse while in care, the court heard.

Mr Edridge said since the offence there had been a noticeable change in his attitude, with the youth now willing to re-engage at school.

Judge Lynch said the female console operator recognised the co-accused who had previously stolen from the shop.

She tried to stop them entering. The youth said: "Do you want to see my knife."

He then lifted his shirt and took out the knife and waved it about. "Do you want me to use this," he said several times.

"She was frightened and ran back in and locked herself in," Judge Lynch said.

"You and a female took items and left."

He said such armed robberies on vulnerable targets had become prevalent and would usually warrant a term of detention for a juvenile offender.

Along with his diagnosed medical, psychiatric conditions and impairment to think through and process information, Judge Lynch said there was also a suggestion of foetal alcohol syndrome.

"At the time you were adversely affected by methamphetamine," he said.

"Substance misuse led up to the offence. A result of the circumstances of crisis during the period you were in care.

"You acknowledge your drug use is problematic and have made efforts."

Judge Lynch ordered the youth (who agreed to comply) complete an 18-month probation order, engage in education courses and not use drugs.

He said a detention order should be imposed as a last resort, as a non-custodial order was better to aid rehabilitation.

No conviction was recorded.

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