STATE OF TASMANIA v GEORGIA MAY SMITH 5 AUGUST 2020
COMMENTS ON PASSING SENTENCE BRETT J
You have pleaded guilty to two crimes, stealing, and aggravated robbery. The facts are relatively simple. You set out on both occasions with an accomplice to commit the crime of shoplifting. That part was premeditated. That is a serious matter in itself. But very quickly, certainly on the second occasion in your case, it turned into a much more serious crime – the crime of aggravated robbery. That crime is regarded as a serious matter because robberies, while they relate to property, are in fact crimes against people. They involve actual or threatened violence against another person. In this case, that violence was perpetrated against a man who was – well, there were two men involved – but, in your case, one man who was simply discharging his responsibilities to his employer, and it is a terrible thing to offer violence to a person, particularly in those circumstances.
The violence was not as bad as is often seen in relation to cases such as this, but it is the experience of the Court that in respect of people who are in that situation, and subjected to violence of this nature, there is a potential risk of very serious and long term consequences to them. In this case, no injuries have been asserted and there is no victim impact statement put forward, but the potential for such harm to occur is what is of concern to the Court.
In relation to the first offence you went to a supermarket. You loaded up a basket with some, groceries, largely food. You were detected before you left the supermarket. By that time, the crime had already been committed, because you decided to take the property, and you had taken possession of it, but you took the shopping basket with some of the property, and my understanding is that some of it was left at the store. The facts assert that your friend perpetrated some actual violence against the staff in that supermarket. You are not responsible for that violence because, if you were, you would be charged with the crime of robbery, or aggravated robbery, and you have not been, so I am not going to take that violence into account. You are simply been dealt with for the theft of the property.
In relation to the second crime, of course, you did offer and actually inflict violence. I accept again that you went to the store and your intention was to commit the crime of shoplifting. You took some property. You were confronted by a man who knew you from school, as I understand it. He acted quite correctly, in accordance with his responsibility to his employer, and he was assaulted by you as a result. You did get away with some of the property on that occasion.
You are 18 years of age. At the time you committed these crimes, you had no prior convictions, although you had committed other offences, and you were subsequently dealt with by a magistrate for those. A nine month community correction order was imposed. You had a good upbringing. It seems that your problem is one that is, unfortunately, common in the community among young people, not always so young, but often among young people, and that is taking and subsequently developing an addiction to methylamphetamine. It is an insidious and highly addictive substance. You would do well to do everything in your power to stay away from that drug, and from the people who sell and trade in it, because I can assure you, the only consequence if you continue to take it, and be involved with it, will be pain and the destruction of your life. That is not an understatement, that comes from the experience of the Courts. In some ways, you are lucky because you have been caught, and you have been dealt with at an early point. You have been involved with this drug, I was told, for about a year. It is a relatively early point. You have the chance to take a different path. That is not necessarily without difficulty. You have already experienced some difficulty, because you have been locked up for 45 days. But I can assure you that things will get much worse if you continue along the path that includes that drug, or indeed any illicit drug, but particularly methylamphetamine.
The objective seriousness of the crimes, particularly the aggravated robbery, does require the imposition of a sentence of imprisonment. It requires that because it is necessary for the Court to give a message to the community that denounces and rejects conduct which involves the use of violence to steal from businesses. Businesses such as Target, and the supermarket are vulnerable to that kind of crime. So there is a need for general deterrence, and that will be met by the imposition of a sentence of imprisonment.
However, you have already spent 45 days in custody, and that will be taken into account as partial service of that term. I do intend to release you today. I intend to wholly suspend the balance of the sentence. What that means is that if you commit another offence during the period of suspension that carries a potential penalty of imprisonment, then the Court will be required to activate the sentence and have you serve it unless it can be persuaded that it is unjust to do so. That is highly unlikely. As your lawyer will tell you, almost any crime on the statute books, will activate that sentence. So you need to be very careful.
I am going to suspend the balance of the sentence because of your age, your lack of prior convictions, my judgment that there is a need to emphasise rehabilitation, and I am also taking into account your early plea of guilty. I will make the suspension subject to a further condition, and that will be supervision by a Community Corrections officer, which will effectively be the same conditions as the community correction order you are on, but it is going to be for a longer term. I do not think that nine months is enough, and this will be for a term of 18 months. That is the term for which you will be subject to the suspension of the sentence.
The orders I make are these:
1 You are convicted of the crimes to which you have pleaded guilty.
2 You are sentenced to a global term of six months’ imprisonment, which will be backdated to 21 June 2020. I calculated that date on the basis that that is 45 days back.
3 The balance of the sentence from now will be suspended for a period of 18 months on the following conditions:
(a) You are not to commit another offence punishable by imprisonment during that period.
(b) You will subject to the supervision of a Community Corrections officer. You must comply with this condition for a period of 18 months. That period will commence from today. The Court notes that the conditions referred to in s 24(5B) of the Sentencing Act apply to this condition. These include that you must report to a Community Corrections officer within three clear days of today. In addition to the core conditions, the order will also include the following special conditions:
(i) you must, during the operational period of the order:
(a) attend educational and other programs as directed by the Court or a Community Corrections officer;
(b) submit to the supervision of a Community Corrections officer as required by that officer;
(c) undergo assessment and treatment for drug dependency as directed by a Community Corrections officer;
(d) submit to testing for drug use as directed by such an officer;
(e) submit to medical, psychological or psychiatric assessment or treatment as directed by a Community Corrections officer;
(f) attend and complete the EQUIPS addition program as directed by a Community Corrections officer.