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The court considered the offender’s youth and her potential for rehabilitation in imposing the sentence

After being released from gaol, Amanda Ridden met Daniel Roach. Together they committed a series of crimes. The District Court explained the sentence it imposed for those crimes in R v Ridden [2016] NSWDC 2.

First set of crimes

After stealing a car from the presence of its elderly owner, Ridden and three others robbed a cinema. Two of the robbers were armed with an axe and a shotgun. Ridden acted as a lookout and demanded that patrons hand over their wallets.

Later that day, the same group robbed a hotel. Ridden was armed with a walking stick. She assisted the robbery by taking property that was located behind a bar. The group then set fire to and destroyed the car they had stolen.

Ridden was convicted of two counts of armed robbery in violation of section 97(2) Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) and one count of destruction of a motor vehicle by fire in violation of section 195(1A)(b) Crimes Act. Ridden was not convicted of stealing the car but she authorised the court to consider that crime at sentencing.

Second set of crimes

The next evening, Ridden and Roach created a disturbance at a McDonalds. The police were called. Roach punched an officer in the face. Ridden tried to interfere with the police as they were wrestling Roach to the ground. She then struggled with the police as they tried to arrest her. During that struggle, she hit one officer in the face, kicked another in the thigh, and kicked a third officer in the forearm and face. A fourth officer injured his elbow while trying to subdue Ridden.

At the police station, Ridden kicked and scratched the custody officer. She was convicted of various counts of assaulting police officers and of causing bodily harm while assaulting police officers, in violation of section 60 Crimes Act.

A search of the backpack that Ridden and Roach brought into McDonalds produced an unloaded shotgun and three shells. Ridden agreed to allow the court to consider those facts at sentencing, although she was not convicted of possessing an unauthorised firearm.

Facts relevant to sentencing

Ridden breached a good behaviour bond by committing the new crimes. The court took that into account by imposing a concurrent 6 month sentence for the underlying offence of breaking and entering. That crime involved the theft of a television from her former boyfriend.

The first set of crimes involved serious behaviour that frightened several victims. The crimes were haphazard but they did involve some degree of planning. The second set of crimes are of the sort that are commonly addressed in Local Court. The District Court viewed those crimes as less serious than the armed robberies, but determined that a sentence was appropriate to deter Ridden and others from abusing police officers.

Special circumstances

Ridden did not plead guilty to the first set of offences until the day of trial. She received only a 10% discount for those guilty pleas. The court gave her a 25% discount for promptly pleading guilty to the second set of charges.

In the past, Ridden served short gaol sentences and a one year sentence. She is still young and a lengthy sentence at this point in her life may destroy her prospects for rehabilitation. She particularly needs to take steps to account for her drug addiction, which motivated the armed robberies.

Ridden grew up in a strict religious community and rebelled against it. She has recently benefitted from counseling to address issues that arose during her childhood and adolescence, including a sexual assault and other victimization.

Ridden’s attitude has changed since being taken into custody and undergoing counseling. She is more social and less alienated. She is beginning to care about her future. She would benefit from intensive psychological treatment.

Sentence

The court attempted to balance the need for punishment and deterrence against the special circumstances in Ridden’s case. The court decided to err on the side of leniency given Ridden’s potential for rehabilitation and the likelihood that a lengthy sentence would do more harm than good. The court imposed an aggregate sentence of 9 years and 6 months with a non-parole period of 5 years and 8 months.

Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.

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