TWO Bendigo armed robbers who used a tomahawk to steal a car from a homeless couple could be released on parole within a few months.
Zachary Bryce Scoble, 25, and Mitchell Dale Cahill, 21, were sentenced in the County Court on Friday after pleading guilty to one charge of armed robbery.
Judge Mark Gamble said the trusting and vulnerable victims would have been terrified during the "outrageous" offending.
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The court heard in the early hours of February 18, Scoble, Cahill, and co-offender John Bartels met up with the victims in Marong for a drug deal.
When the two victims arrived in their white Holden utility, Bartels entered their car and told the victims to drive to the Queen Elizabeth Oval.
About two hours later, Scoble and Cahill arrived in their Ford Futura and parked a distance away.
They were wearing face coverings and carrying a tomahawk and a knife as they approached the victims.
Scoble smashed the car's windscreen and windows with the tomahawk. The victims tried to drive off, but Bartels pulled the handbrake on and told them to shut up.
Scoble reached through the smashed driver's side window and took the keys out of the ignition, as he and Cahill yelled at the victims to get out of the car.
The victims exited the vehicle and pleaded for the men to stop. The court heard Bartels told them he had to take the car otherwise he would get killed.
The three offenders then left the scene in the stolen white ute. They were arrested later that day and police retrieved the stolen vehicle.
Bartels pleaded guilty to the armed robbery charge and was sentenced in the County Court in August. He received a two-year community corrections order after serving 546 days of pre-sentence detention.
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Judge Gamble said Bartels' sentence was imposed in an "unorthodox" manner, as the offender did not need to prove why he should not receive a jail term with a non-parole period.
The judge said for the sake of parity, he would impose a "lesser and more lenient" sentence than he otherwise would to avoid a "sense of grievance".
Judge Gamble said Scoble and Cahill's offending was still serious and required denunciation.
The judge noted the victims had been living out of their vehicle at the time they were attacked, so the robbery was not only inherently serious but "plain mean".
Judge Gamble said the two men had relevant criminal histories, although Cahill's was more extensive despite his younger age.
The two offenders were both on community corrections orders at the time of the armed robbery.
Judge Gamble said it was clear that Scoble had a leading role in the robbery, as he used the tomahawk and took the keys from the victims.
But the judge said an intellectual disability and mental health conditions including borderline personality disorder somewhat reduced Scoble's moral culpability.
Scoble's cognitive issues would also make prison more burdensome, the judge noted.
Judge Gamble said Cahill had a lesser, but still significant, role in the armed robbery. The 21-year-old would also be considered a youthful offender for the purpose of sentencing.
The judge said he accepted both men were addicted to illicit substances and had been using at the time of the robbery.
Judge Gamble said the offenders now appeared "more motivated and better placed... to tackle their drug addiction" after a period of detox while in custody.
The judge said he accepted the two men entered guilty pleas at an early stage, which were particularly valuable as it meant the victims did not need to give evidence in a trial.
Judge Gamble also noted that the men had been in custody throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, which provided "additional anxiety" due to the risk of contracting the virus.
Scoble was convicted and sentenced to two years and six months in jail, with a non-parole period of one year and 10 months. His 598 days of pre-sentence detention were reckoned as already served.
Cahill was convicted and jailed for two years and 10 months, with a two-year non-parole period. He also had his 598 days of pre-sentence detention reckoned as already served.
If Scoble did not plead guilty, he would have been jailed for four years and six months with a non-parole period of three years and three months.
Cahill would have been sentenced to five years in jail, with a non-parole period of three years and six months, if he did not plead guilty.
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