By Luke Voogt
A Geelong woman has escaped jail and a conviction for traumatising a Grovedale service station attendant with a fake gun, after turning her life around.
Judge Irene Lawson last month sentenced the woman to 100 hours of community service, after she pleaded guilty in County Court to armed robbery.
On 2 July 2017, about 7.40am, the-32-year-old woman approached an attendant at a BP service station in Grovedale, telling him she had a weapon in her pocket.
She told the man she did not want to use the weapon and to put money in a bag that she placed on the counter, apologising as she left the store.
Police arrested her as she hid behind a nearby dumpster, and found a toy gun she had had in her possession.
The woman was staying on a couch at a friend’s place before committing the robbery, Judge Lawson said.
“You took a toy gun from your friend’s place, as well as the bag, and then walked to the nearby service station where you committed the offence.
“You now accept that what you did was a stupid and desperate act that has had adverse outcomes for the store.”
The woman cried as she read the store attendant’s victim statement, which detailed how the event made him fearful and paranoid.
“He, for days after, did not feel comfortable entering his place of work,” Judge Lawson said.
“Ultimately, he took some personal leave with consequential loss of income.”
But the woman had made “exemplary” efforts to beat her drug and alcohol addiction since the robbery, volunteering for intensive rehabilitation in Melbourne, the judge said.
“I accept that you have achieved abstinence from alcohol and drugs and that you are committed to remaining drug-free,” she said.
The woman’s history of substance abuse, including amphetamines, began at age 16, Judge Lawson said.
In 2017 the woman began using heroin and broke up from a highly-dysfunctional and drug-focussed de facto relationship.
Judge Lawson acknowledged the woman’s parents had separated and that her mother had committed suicide when the woman was 20.
She also acknowledged the woman’s past efforts to seek treatment for her drug use and depression.
The maximum penalty for armed robbery is 15 year’s prison, but Judge Lawson said the woman offended “at the lower end of the scale” and had no criminal history.
She was on her way to reformation following her participation in the Court Integrated Services Program, Judge Lawson said.
“It is not often that courts see such an exemplary response to the opportunity that is offered through that program.”