A MAN has been jailed for eight years after he held a knife to the throat of an elderly woman then ran police off the road in a wild chase before punching a woman in an attempted carjacking.
Robert Paul Atkinson will spend at least five years in prison for the wild and “seriously criminal” crime spree from Invergowrie to Armidale and Tamworth in August 2017.
Atkinson – the son of former Queensland police commissioner Robert Atkinson – sat silently and showed no emotion as he was handed the sentence in Tamworth District Court on Monday afternoon.
Atkinson drove from Palm Beach in Queensland, staked out a Barloo Road home in Invergowrie, then kicked his way in.
He smashed up the home and its contents with a crowbar, leaving a damage bill that topped $38,000.
It was “a targeted home invasion”, Judge Jeffery McLennan said.
He then went to Armidale Removals on Mann Street. Atkinson knew the residents of the home and business, where he used to work, and “knew it was pay day”.
“A 71-year-old woman was grabbed from behind and threats were made to kill her while a knife was held at her throat,” Judge McLennan detailed, adding that he’d yelled, “give me the f****** money, all I want is the money”.
“She must have been terrified.”
He was disturbed by a man, dropped the knife and fled in his Toyota Camry, which was later spotted in Bendemeer.
She must have been terrified.- Judge Jeffery McLennan
Judge McLennan detailed the cat-and-mouse chase by police to stop Atkinson, who repeatedly ran officers off the road several times, and caused police to swerve into grassland and table drains to avoid high-speed collisions.
He pleaded guilty to break-and-enter, assault with intent to rob, using an offensive weapon to prevent apprehension, police pursuit, using a weapon with intent, and attempted carjacking.
Atkinson topped speeds of 150km per hour in the Moonbi Gap and Upper Moore Creek Road area as officers tried to stop him.
Police reached speeds of 160km as they tried to follow Atkinson, who overtook a school bus on a blind corner to evade officers before the chase was terminated. He then swerved in front of an unmarked police vehicle at speed near the Tamworth hospital.
Atkinson eventually crashed into the yard of a Bligh Street home, chucked the bar away and tried to carjack a 65-year-old woman as she arrived home in her car.
The court heard he yelled, “Give me the car, get out”, before punching the woman in the face, breaking her glasses and leaving her bloodied and bruised with black eyes.
Police swarmed the area and Atkinson was found hiding in a nearby garage.
He was dragged out before making full admissions to his crimes in an interview with police.
Judge McLennan said “numerous lives [were] put at risk” in the “potentially life-threatening” chase as Atkinson tried to evade capture, “running police off the road a number of times”.
“This was extremely dangerous,” he said.
All of this occurred after Atkinson fled Queensland while on supreme court bail, Judge McLennan said.
The court heard Atkinson had used methamphetamine two days prior to his offending, had a history of diagnosed medical conditions and didn’t have a close relationship with his parents.
He burned down a Catholic church in 2004 and set fire to a room, triggering a 14-hour siege with police, with a marriage breakdown a catalyst for his escalation of crime in 2014.
Judge McLennan “found [Atkinson] is ashamed of his behaviour” which “was seriously criminal” and included attacking people known to him, “random members of the public” and police officers who were “doing their job by protecting the community”.
Two counts of larceny were taken into account in sentencing; Atkinson had stolen a kitchen knife and a Mother drink from Kmart Armidale, as well as a tray of rib eye steaks and a Coke from an Armidale butcher, on the day of the spree.
He was given a 25 per cent discount for his early guilty pleas and a finding of special circumstances was made.
After time served, Atkinson will be first eligible for parole in August 2022.
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