Sentencing sends wrong message

A TAMWORTH businessman whose shop was held up by a armed bandit is calling for a re-think on sentencing in the wake of the punishment handed out.

Tianjarrah Denniss was armed with a screwdriver when he terrorised a woman behind the counter and her grand daughter in the Gunney’s General Store and Takeaway on December 8, last year.

After pleading guilty, the 23-year-old was handed a two-year jail sentence in Tamworth District Court this month and is eligible for parole in October after serving 10 months behind bars.

But the impact on Brad Gunn’s staff will be felt for much longer.

“She is traumatised by it all,” he told The Leader.

“Thirty seconds is all it took, he held the screwdriver to her neck.

“She still thinks about it everyday, it’s not good at all, and her granddaughter, she was 14 at the time, she saw it all.”

Mr Gunn was spending time with family when the armed hold-up unfolded before his staff came screaming into his house.

Denniss made off with the money but a witness recognised him through his head covering and he was quickly captured by police.

“You can be jailed for eight years for accidently killing somebody with the new one punch laws, yet a premeditated armed robbery gets a possible 10 months. Is this the message the young need to hear? No it’s not,” he said.

“Having a parole period of 10 months, it just doesn’t seem fitting.”

Mr Gunn said he had to console his staff who were worried the offender could return and confront them, with the release date edging closer.

“It’s not appropriate that he could be back in the same street just 10 months after,” he said.

Mr Gunn believes this and another minimum 15 month sentence handed to a serial armed offender, and Tamworth man, is sending the wrong message to the community.

“God no, it’s not a deterrent,” Mr Gunn said.

“It’s a pre-mediated crime, it’s not like its a spur of the moment thing, to jump over the counter and hold the screw- driver to her neck.

“We aren’t teaching them what’s right, the whole process of youths in the system, it’s not punishing them.”

Mr Gunn said he doesn’t pretend to know the answers, but said the current system is not working.

In April this year, Tamworth businessman Barry Bourne slammed the sentence handed down to the armed robber who stole from his shop – the third hold-up in the offender’s crime spree – receiving three years and nine months in prison.

*** Victims should be our main focus: editorial

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