Rocky man jailed for spate of Brisbane armed robberies

A ROCKHAMPTON man who committed a spate of armed robberies shortly after being released from prison has been sentenced to seven years behind bars.

Ricky Lee Van Zwieten, 30, pleaded guilty yesterday in the Brisbane District Court to five counts of armed robbery, two of attempted armed robbery, fraud and stealing as a servant.

The court heard the offences were committed at various small businesses throughout Brisbane between May and September, 2013, less than three weeks after he was released from prison and while on parole.

Crown prosecutor Josh Hanna told the court Van Zwieten had become somewhat institutionalised despite his young age.

He said Van Zwieten had an extensive criminal history that included being convicted in 2006 and sentenced to six years behind bars for six armed robbery offences.

"His guilty pleas come in the light of an extremely strong Crown case," he said.

"He was identified by all robbery victims but declined to be interviewed by police when arrested.

"Deterrence is an important aspect in this case and the community needs to be protected from him."

Defence barrister Lars Falcongreen said the robberies were amateurish in their nature and not a lot of pre-planning was involved.

He said Van Zwieten made away with just more than $1550 in total from all the robberies.

"He has only spent 12 months of his adult life outside prison," he said.

"He is highly institutionalised and struggled with adapting to life outside prison when he was last released.

"It is the institutionalisation that has caused him the most difficulty, especially financially."

Judge Michael Rackemann agreed the armed robberies were amateurish and were at the lower end of the spectrum, but sentenced Van Zwieten to seven years behind bars after taking into account his previous criminal history.

He declared the 339 days Van Zwieten had served in pre-sentence custody as time served.

Judge Rackemann did not set a parole eligibility date.

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