Robber's satanist upbringing a factor

A MAN who robbed two Ipswich service stations armed with a blood-filled syringe and a metal bar has been sentenced to five years prison.

Blake Phillip Hartwig, 20, started his offending spree on June 28 last year when he and a co-accused took police on a lengthy chase in a stolen car.

The chase ended when the offending driver collided with four other vehicles. Hartwig was the passenger.

Ipswich District Court was told Hartwig only met his co-accused on the day of the offence, and later that night the man drove him to two separate service stations.

Hartwig entered the stores disguised in a balaclava and was armed with a blood-filled syringe and a metal bar.

He demanded cash from the terrified attendants, who obliged, and Hartwig fled in the stolen vehicle with his co-accused as the getaway driver.

Crown prosecutor Kris Ashen said Hartwig had been on parole for a violent home invasion at the time of the armed robberies.

Mr Ashen said the robberies were serious offences aggravated by the fact they were committed only four months after Hartwig was released on parole for the home invasion.

Defence barrister Steve Kissick said Hartwig had a disturbing upbringing after he was taken to America as a child and introduced to Satanism by his stepfather.

Mr Kissick said Hartwig was still dealing with his troubled childhood, which involved strict discipline from the stepfather, who had strong conspiracy theories about life.

Mr Kissick said Hartwig suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and oppositional defiance disorder, but was of above-average intelligence and could be a contributing member to the community one day.

Judge Deborah Richards said she accepted Hartwig had had an "eventful" start to his life but said the protection of the community from violent offenders was paramount.

"You are still a young man with hope for your future, but what happens is up to you," she said.

Hartwig pleaded guilty on Friday to two counts of armed robbery, unlawful use of a motor vehicle, burglary, stealing and possessing a knife in a public place.

He was sentenced to five years prison and will be eligible to apply for parole on May 11 next year.

Apart from four months out of prison to commit the latest offences, Hartwig has been in custody since July 15, 2010.


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