Homeless man jailed over Ballarat sex shop attempted armed robbery

SCENE: Police arrest a man near the Civic Hall car park after an attempted armed robbery at Club X in Armstrong Street.
SCENE: Police arrest a man near the Civic Hall car park after an attempted armed robbery at Club X in Armstrong Street.

A homeless man who attempted to rob a Ballarat sex store at knifepoint in April 2017 will spend the next 12 months behind bars.

Peter McCarthy was sentenced to a total of 657 days in prison but he has already served 292 days in pre-sentence detention.

When the 52-year-old is released in 12 months, he will be placed on a three-year community corrections order with a number of conditions.

Judge Michael McInerney sentenced McCarthy at the County Court at Ballarat on Thursday, describing it as a difficult sentencing task.

He said McCarthy had been living a life of a street dweller and was drug-affected when he armed himself with a knife tried to rob Club X on Armstrong Street of synthetic cannabis on April 22.

In the nine to 12 months leading up to the offence, McCarthy became homeless, lived on the streets and turned to drug and alcohol substances.

Judge McInerney said McCarthy committed the crime because he saw it as the only way to give himself a roof over his head and give himself food.

“Given the seriousness of the crime, irrespective of the motive, it leaves the court with a difficult sentencing task,” Judge McInerney said.

TARGETED: Club X adult store on Armstrong Street, Ballarat.

TARGETED: Club X adult store on Armstrong Street, Ballarat.

He said McCarthy’s prior offences dated back to 1985 when he was aged 20 and included offences littered with charges of assaulting police or resisting police.

McCarthy was sentenced in November 2010 to two years’ jail with a minimum of nine months for an armed robbery at a Wendouree hotel where he took a slab of beer.

He was a regular customer at the hotel and his aim was to get something very minor, Judge McInerney said.

McCarhty was also a regular customer at Club X.

McCarthy entered the store and demanded staff hand over seven grams of synthetic cannabis before flicking out a 22 centimetre knife.

There was a short exchange between McCarthy and a staff member, who recognised McCarthy as a customer, and told him to get out and not to come back.

Police arrested McCarthy a short time later at a car park near the Civic Hall. 

Judge McInerney said a medical report tendered to the court stated McCarthy’s cognitive function was worse at the time of the Club X attempted robbery than it was now.

“He was very agitated in the record of interview and had disorientated thoughts,” Judge McInerney said.

“One positive in all this is Mr McCarthy has been six years without any crimes, amazing given his background,” he said.

Judge McInerney said because of the seriousness of McCarhty’s offending and his background, he would need to serve further time in jail. 

McCarthy’s three-year community corrections order includes 100 hours of community work, drug and alcohol assistance and offending behavioural programs.

He pleaded guilty to one charge of attempted armed robbery at the County Court at Ballarat last Thursday.

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