A man has been jailed for up to 11 years over four brutal assaults, including an attack that left an Albion Park Rail Aldi worker unconscious.
Mervyn Davidson, 44, who has since been accused of murdering a fellow prison inmate, set upon the female cashier during an attempted robbery in January last year.
He had been released on parole just two months earlier, having spent only a handful of months out of prison since 2003, Judge Andrew Haesler noted, upon sentencing Davidson at Wollongong District Court on Friday.
The judge noted he arrived at the supermarket in the grip of an ice-induced psychosis, armed with a baseball bat.
The cashier had no time to react before he swung the bat using a two-handed grip, hitting her head. He then kicked her while she lay in the ground unconscious, before coworkers and bystanders “bravely intervened”.
"She was defenceless,” the judge said. “The attack was ferocious. Considerable force was used ... She suffered serious harm but thankfully her injuries resolved without need for surgery.
‘’It takes no imagination to find that there will be continuing psychological harm as her delayed return to work demonstrates,” he said.
The cashier spent five days in hospital with a skull fracture and bleeding on the brain.
A customer who came to her aid was hit three or four times to the head with the bat, causing bruising and headaches.
Meantime, Davidson complained of back pain while at Lake Illawarra Police Station and asked if he could lie down.
When a sergeant moved him to a bigger cell and went to lay out a mattress, Davidson punched him to the face, knocking him down. The sergeant was treated for concussion, cuts to his mouth and scalp, and jaw and neck pain.
Two days later, in MRRC Silverwater, Davidson’s cellmate Jamie Robin noticed him pacing up and down, then taking off his T-shirt.
As Robin went to collect an arriving meal, Davidson put the t-shirt around his neck and choked him until he fell unconscious to the ground.
A corrective services officer heard the attack and tried to help Robin, but Davidson was too aggressive. The cell was locked while specialist officers were called. Robin was taken, still unconscious, to Westmead hospital with a line of burst blood vessels around his neck. He was revived and later returned to custody.
The court heard Davidson claimed to have no memory of the attacks.
Of the Aldi violence, he told a court-appointed psychologist “I had to see it to believe it” and said he would apologise to the cashier if he could.
The judge was watching Davidson when CCTV footage of the assault was played in court.
“I saw [his] reaction,” the judge said. “He was obviously upset by being confronted with the awful reality of what he’s done to [the cashier].”
Born deaf in one ear, Davidson used a hearing aid in court on Friday.
The court heard he attended “special classes” as a child, had limited literacy skills and had been placed in the bottom one per cent of the population for intellectual capacity.
He was raised in a home environment of heavy alcohol abuse, drug use and violence, and had never held a job.
His dysfunctional upbringing provided “compelling explanation for his continuing addiction problems and ongoing involvement in criminal offences”, the judge said.
“He is however well-adjusted to custodial life, in fact too well adjusted. It has become his norm.”
Davidson’s sentence was reduced by 25 per cent in exchange for his early guilty plea.
The judge sentenced Davidson to a total term of 11 years imprisonment, with a non-parole period of seven years, eight months. With time already served, he will become eligible for parole on September 28, 2024.
Davidson has separately been charged with the murder of Silverwater prison inmate Alfredo Pengue, 54, who died in hospital later in February after he was allegedly found unconscious in his cell.