A YOUNG Ballarat man convicted of an armed robbery rampage wiped tears from his eyes and struggled to breath as he was jailed yesterday.
Tai Sharp, 20, will spend at least one year in an adult prison, after a judge jailed him for two years, with a non-parole period of 12-months.
Appearing in the dock of the County Court at Ballarat, a highly agitated Sharp gasped for air during most of the hour-long sentencing.
Sharp, who pleaded guilty to almost 10 charges on Wednesday, was bailed to reappear yesterday in order for a report to be prepared determining his suitability for a youth training centre.
Judge Howard Mason said the report was unfavourable and that an immediate term of imprisonment in an adult jail was the only suitable sentence.
Sharp and two co-accused went on an armed robbery rampage on November 10 last year.
In one attack, while Sharp’s co-accused allegedly pointed an imitation shotgun at a drunk man’s head, Sharp kicked the victim’s legs out, before stealing his mobile phone.
In another incident, Sharp took the imitation firearm from his co-accused and directed members of a group to separate, while threatening to kill them.
Sharp was jailed for four months in 2011 after he wrung a pet rabbit’s neck in a violent display at a Ballarat bus stop.
Judge Howard Mason said the latest offences – against “hapless” individuals walking home from nightspots – was deplorable and the community had a right to feel safe.
“All residents should feel safe to walk the streets after dark,” Judge Mason said.
“The public should not be expected to tolerate such behaviour. This was serious offending against citizens of this community.”
Sharp’s defence barrister, Stephen Howe, said his client was frightened and highly anxious at the prospect of adult jail.
Mr Howe added that Sharp wanted the court to know he was conscious of his behaviour in Ballarat over recent years.
Gasping for air and wiping away tears, Sharp mouthed a quiet “yep, yep, ok” after Judge Mason asked if he understood his sentence.