TWO armed men who terrorised a family in a frightening armed robbery near Tamworth in search of money for drugs have been jailed for more than seven years.
Nicholas Allan Hampton, whose criminal rap sheet boasts convictions for manslaughter and reckless wounding, had only been out of jail on parole for two weeks when he robbed four people, including a 16-year-old, of jewellery and cash in Quirindi in 2016.
He nodded his head in Tamworth District Court on Thursday afternoon as he was sentenced to a maximum of seven-years-and-four-months behind bars for four counts of robbery-in-company.
Earlier this week, his co-accused Jonathan Alex Nean was sentenced to eight-years-and-nine-months in prison with a minimum of five years before he’s eligible for parole.
The court heard the victims were a 35-year-old man, a 56-year-old mother and two children, aged 17 and 16, who were home in the Centre Street, Quirindi, home on the night of the robberies on September 11.
This was a violent home invasion by armed men ... who terrorised a number of persons in their search for money for drugs.Judge Jeffery McLennan
“This was a violent home invasion by armed men ... who terrorised a number of persons in their search for money for drugs,” Judge Jeffery McLennan said in Hampton’s sentencing on Thursday.
The court was told the woman, who had lived at the home for 20 years and was robbed of $65 in cash from her bag, was now living in fear and had security cameras installed in her house.
Nean and Hampton went to a caravan in the backyard about 9pm and had a confrontation with the 35-year-old man, who Nean had known for about two years.
The confrontation escalated and Nean snatched a necklace and took jewellery from inside, before grabbing more rings from the victims and holding a knife to the man’s throat.
Hampton, who was armed with a screwdriver, held the weapon to the ribs of another victim and they went inside the house, as one of the occupants managed to escape to the backyard and call police.
Hampton punched one of the victims, knocking him to the ground, and waved the screwdriver around, threatening the occupants, asking for jewellery and other goods like phones, iPads and laptops.
He also held the screwdriver to the neck and told the 16-year-old that if he rang the police: "I will come back and shoot your mother in front of you".
I will come back and shoot your mother in front of you.Offender Nicholas Hampton
The pair, who were allegedly accompanied by two other women, fled in a white Mitsubishi Lancer they stole from the occupants, and Nean was “revving the shit out of it” when he drove off.
Police spotted the car in Tamworth a short time after and engaged in a police pursuit with Nean – who was behind the wheel – before the car engine failed and the four were arrested.
Screwdrivers and a knife were found in the vehicle.
[There is] an important need to protect the community from Mr Hampton.Judge Jeffery McLennan
Judge McLennan said while the “offender Nean took a leading role” it was “Hampton who inflicted the physical violence” and one of the robbery charges “involved an actual threat of violence” and “also a threat to kill his mother in front of him".
He said the events of the night “were planned” although not "sophisticated or extensive" but were to satisfy a “need for drugs” which "both men willing participated in".
Judge McLennan said one "complainant was sufficiently terrified" so much so that "he passed out twice".
“[There is] an important need to protect the community from Mr Hampton,” he told the court, adding that Hampton had become “institutionalised”.
Hampton, who started using drugs at 15, first went to prison at age 18, had “few skills to live” and poor prospects of rehabilitation.
His violence has been maintained overtime.Judge Jeffery McLennan
“His violence has been maintained overtime,” Judge McLennan said.
Hampton, 34, has been in custody since he was caught. He pleaded guilty in November to the charges – which carry a 20-year maximum penalty – and received a 25 per cent discount for the early pleas. He will be released in 2021.
Nean had earlier told a sentencing hearing the pair went to the house “to get on” drugs. Nean – who was only given a 10 per cent discount for his early guilty pleas to the four robbery charges and police pursuit – won’t be eligible for release until 2022.
The court was told one woman, charged in connection to the robberies, remains before the court.