Armed robber with heavy conscience turns himself in
AN ARMED robber with a guilty conscience, who turned himself in to police, held up a Night Owl to get more ice after taking it for the first time only hours before.
He pleaded guilty to the offence on Friday, and learned he would spend a further five months behind bars as part of a minimum 18-month sentence for weapons offences - a legislative mandate sentencing judge Ian Dearden was openly critical of.
Brisbane District Court heard had Jai Zamad Prasad not turned himself in, it was very unlikely he would have been caught for the hold-up of the Indooroopilly Night Owl on September 16 last year.
Labelled a "serial confessor" by the Crown, it was the fourth time the now 23-year-old man, who grew up in Bundaberg, had taken himself to a police station and turned himself in for committing a crime.
He voluntarily turned himself into police in Bundaberg, when in 2009, he bashed a 67-year-old man with a metal pole outside his home in Broadmeadow Ave, Thabeban, after the man had asked him to turn his music down.
His guilt got the better of him again in 2013, when he went to an Ipswich police station and admitted breaking into a home while the owners were in, and stealing alcohol, $10 and a laptop, and the following year, when he surrendered himself over an admission of wilful damage.
The court heard the young man had been abandoned by his alcoholic mother when he was two, and raised by his father, who is a counsellor.
He had tried to reconnect with his errant mother, who had subsequently brought him into contact with drugs.
The night he robbed the Night Owl at gun point, he had been given ice by one of his mother's friends. The court heard he instantly wanted more.
He was given the hand gun, and dropped off near the shop, with the knowledge he would commit the offence to get money to buy more ice.
He held the hand gun to the chest of the 26-year-old attended, cocked it, and demanded the till, which contained $200.
Prasad was caught on CCTV, but had disguised himself so was unrecognisable. When police released the footage to media in an attempt to solve the crime, he turned himself in.
The court heard he had turned to drugs on several occasions as a maladjusted way of connecting with his mother.
His father, who was very supportive, had previously organised for Prasad to undertake a youth-worker's course in Townsville, which Prasad had completed before he committed the offence.
Prasad told the court he had made a "wrong decision that night".
"I made someone feel fear," he said.
"The whole time I've been in prison I've felt fear."
Prasad said he was remorseful and had not taken any drugs for the past 13 months he had been in jail awaiting sentencing.
"There's plenty of drugs in jail whatever you can get your hands on," he said.
"But I've said no.
"I know what heavy drugs do to you now. "
Judge Dearden took into account Prasad's sad history with his mother, that he demonstrated significant remorse for his actions, and that but for him turning himself in, it was unlikely he would have been caught.
He said due to mandatory sentencing in the legislation regarding armed offences, which he was critical of, he was stuck with making sure Prasad served at least 18 months in jail.
"I don't agree with it... I'll tell you quite frankly I don't think it's right," he said.
"The legislature haven't thought through the issues as to how it binds judges into a less satisfactory sentence structure."
Judge Dearden sentenced Prasad to 18 months jail, a term he said "seems more than it should be".
- ARM NEWSDESK