A TAMWORTH man who carried out four robberies in one night and led police on a high-speed chase has had his jail term reduced by three months on appeal.
Jonathan Alex Nean was sentenced in Tamworth District Court in 2018 to eight years and nine months' imprisonment from March 2017 with a non-parole period of five years.
He was jailed for four counts of robbery in company and one police pursuit, while a charge of stealing a car was taken into account in sentencing, for the crime spree on the night of September 11, 2016, in Quirindi and Tamworth.
Nean would have been eligible for parole in March 2022.
But he lodged an appeal, claiming the judge erred in his assessment of the time spent in custody before sentence for the matter; his criminal antecedents, or background, and that he has a "justifiable grievance" for the sentence imposed on his co-offender.
That man is Nicholas Hampton, who also pleaded guilty to the four robberies and was jailed for seven years and four months with a minimum of four years behind bars.
The appeal was heard in the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal in Sydney. In a judgment with the other members of the court, Justice David Davies recorded that the court heard Nean had used heroin from the age of 15 and ice from the age of 16, first trying drugs at the age of 12.
He said Nean's record was an aggravating feature of the offending, but found there had been an error in the calculation of the sentencing in Tamworth, finding that Nean wasn't on parole at the time of the offending.
"Whilst His Honour was in error in relation to the applicant being on parole, the fact that he was subject to bail conditions and the subjects of warrants for his arrest is no less serious an aggravating factor," he said.
Justice Davies said Nean needed to be re-sentenced but agreed with the judge that the robberies were committed at the home of the victims and three were committed in the "presence of a child".
In my opinion no lesser sentence that that imposed by the judge is warranted.Justice David Davies
He said other aggravated features included Nean being on bail at the time, with warrants out for his arrest, and he has criminal convictions for serious personal violence. He accepted that Nean was remorseful.
In evidence, the court heard Nean had been punished three times whilst he had been behind bars, for possessing a jail-made smoking implement, failing a urine test for buprenorphine and possessing a syringe - despite telling the original sentencing judge that jail "had taught him that he needed to stay away from the wrong people and get of the drugs".
"In my opinion no lesser sentence that that imposed by the judge is warranted," Justice Davies said.
He sentenced him to eight years and nine months' imprisonment, with a five-year non-parole period, but backdated it to February 2017, meaning Nean will be eligible for release in January 2022.
How the crime spree unfolded
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 in the Quirindi home on the night of the robberies on September 11.
The woman was robbed of $65 in cash from her bag.
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 mans 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".
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.