Child custody issues save father from jail

A Wollongong judge has taken pity on a man who turned to crime during a traumatic child custody dispute, handing him a suspended sentence for a slew of robbery and weapons charges.

The man, who cannot be named, avoided jail on Friday, with Judge Paul Conlon noting his ‘‘debilitating depression’’, caused from being separated from his  daughter, had contributed to his crimes.

‘‘I am satisfied on the balance of probabilities that his mental health issues...were operating around the period of the offending and contributed to his involvement in the offences,’’ he said.

The man’s crime spree began on September 29, 2011 when he acted as a look-out for a break-in at a furniture store in South Nowra.

A month later, the man asked another co-offender to break into his ex-wife’s home, in the hope of uncovering documents that could be used in the divorce.

Character references painted the man as ‘‘slipping into depression’’ during the protracted legal battle with his ex-wife.

The court heard the man, who pleaded guilty, had a limited criminal history, was well-respected in the community and had good prospects of rehabilitation.

He was placed on a two-year suspended sentence.