Pharmacies could ‘pose high risk situations’ for offender

A man with a history of robbing pharmacies with tomahawks has been placed under an interim supervision order as he nears his release date

In August 2021, the state of Western Australia had applied for a restriction order regarding the man, under the High Risk Serious Offenders Act 2020 (WA), who is expected to finish serving his term of imprisonment next week.

The application had been made following a referral from the High Risk Serious Offenders Committee.

Four months had elapsed between the referral and the application, meaning an interim order had to be considered before a full hearing could take place.

The Supreme Court hearing centred on whether there were reasonable grounds for believing that the man was a high risk serious offender, which the Court agreed there were.

Chief Justice of Western Australia Peter Quinlan SC noted the man’s “long history of violent offending,” including against pharmacists.

His offending included aggravated armed robbery, aggravated burglary, stealing, threats to kill and grievous bodily harm.

In September 1995, the man broke into a pharmacy, along with some co-offenders, where he stole money and drugs.

With a co-offender, the next month he stole a car from a shopping centre car park, and robbed a hardware store with a wheel brace, threatening a staff member and stealing $700.

For these crimes at the shopping centre, hardware store and pharmacy he was sentenced to five years and nine months’ imprisonment.

At the time, he was 19 years old and “already had numerous convictions for stealing motor vehicles as well as other offences”.

While in jail, he attacked another prisoner, believing him to be an informant, and also participated in a riot.

Back in the community in 2002, he stole money, prescription medicines and other property from several people and businesses.

He was convicted of seven counts of armed robbery, among other offences, and sentenced to a total effective term of nine years and six months’ imprisonment.

One of these offences involved his robbery of a pharmacy while armed with a tomahawk.

“While in the pharmacy, he grabbed an 80‑year‑old customer who sustained some minor injuries when he threw her to the ground,” CJ Quinlan noted.

He and a co-offender stole money from the till, as well as prescription medicines and the wallets of two pharmacists.

In 2011 he broke into the houses of two people, assaulted on and stole items, and was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment.

His most recent offending, and the crime for which he most recently entered custody, took place in October 2015.

At 7.50 that day, he and another person ran into a pharmacy, with the man again armed with a tomahawk, which he waved, demanding that the till be opened.

“He obtained $1,500 in cash which he and his co‑offender then used to purchase drugs,” CJ Quinlan said.

As a result, he was convicted of aggravated armed robbery and sentenced to three years and nine months’ imprisonment, backdated to three days after the offence.

Around the same time, he had committed a range of other offences including aggravated burglary, stealing and criminal damage, for which he was handed a two-year, two-month sentence to be served cumulatively on the sentence for the aggravated armed robbery of the pharmacy.

The man is set to finish his term of imprisonment in mid-September.

His 2013 pre-sentence report had outlined his history of daily intravenous poly-substance abuse relating to amphetamine (speed), opiates (heroin and morphine) and more historically, cannabis.

This drug use pattern was the motivator for his offending, and he would offend to make money to afford the drugs, relapsing into illicit substance abuse within days every time he was released from prison.

The 2019 Parole Review Report said he had high risk factors for reoffending, though drug testing found for the most part that he had stuck to his treatment plan with methadone while in prison, returning only one positive test, to cannabis.

The man had accepted that he would need significant help to stay drug-free if he were released.

CJ Quinlan agreed that given the man’s need for supervision and assistance with remaining drug-free, and his ongoing treatment needs, he believed there were reasonable grounds that a court might find him to be a high risk serious offender.

He made orders for the hearing of the restriction order application and for the man to receive assessment by a psychiatrist and psychologist.

The man had submitted that the community would be adequately protected by a post-sentence supervision order made by the Prisoners Review Board in August 2021, rather than requiring the interim supervision order the State requested.

CJ Quinlan said he was satisfied that he should make an interim supervision order in the interest of the safety of the community.

This means the man can be made subject to GPS monitoring and a curfew, allowing written directions to be made prohibiting him from going to certain premises.

CJ Quinland said that it was apparent from the prior offending that businesses, particularly pharmacies, could be at significant risk without such an order to address the man’s “capacity to access certain places which may pose high risk situations”.

“Pharmacies, which have been part of [the man]’s offending history, may be an example of such a place.”

He ordered that the man be subject to the interim supervision order from the date of his release until the final hearing can take place.

Anonymous and confidential crisis support counselling is available through the Pharmacists’ Support Service by phoning 1300 244 910 between 8am and 11pm (EST) every day of the year.

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