A Wollongong man who held up and robbed two petrol stations and a sandwich shop did so because he was hearing voices telling him to go back to jail, a court has heard.
Matthew Buss, 30, was sentenced in Wollongong District Court on Friday for a string of attempted and armed robberies over the June long weekend this year.
Judge Andrew Haesler sentenced Buss to five years in prison with a non-parole period of three years and nine months from the date of his arrest on June 6.
An agreed set of facts said Buss went into a petrol station in Towradgi about 11pm on June 5, walked up to the attendant and said, "I have a gun so don't do anything. Get all the cash out and put it into this bag".
As Buss put his hand into his front pocket, the cashier believed he saw a black plastic handle and backed away before providing Buss with mobile phones, cigarettes and $200.
The attendant was frightened that Buss had a gun but it could have been a knife, he told police.
"The whole incident was captured on CCTV and that did not deter Buss," Judge Haesler said.
"To the contrary he looks at the CCTV camera, is quite nonchalant, he was not attempting to hide himself in any way and his extensive tattoos were fully visible."
The next morning about 6am, Buss drove his car, despite never being licensed, to a petrol station in Figtree where he filled it with fuel.
Buss went inside and was told his fuel cost $50, prompting him to reply, "listen man, I've got a gun, I've got a gun" before demanding money.
He put his hand into his bag to make the attendant think he had a gun.
Buss repeated his demands and the attendant held his hands up and backed away but Buss walked out of the petrol station with no money.
Buss went to a sandwich store in Figtree about 1.20pm the same day and confronted the store attendants, demanding they give him all the money in the till and that he had a gun.
The attendants, who were scared and shaking, opened the till and Buss left with about $400 cash before driving away.
The car was found near where a relative of Buss' lived in Towardgi and he was arrested and made admissions to police. He has been in custody since.
"Each of the victims in these matters were providing a valuable community service," Judge Haesler said.
"As a community we need sandwich shops and petrol stations.
"CCTV allowed this offender to be apprehended but it didn't prevent the crime.
"Individuals and the community feel unsafe when crimes like this occur and a fearful community is a damaged community."
Judge Haesler also noted robberies were not a victimless crime and often people were left shaken by the incident and apprehensive to work, fearful they could be held up again.
Judge Haesler took into account that Buss was on parole when he committed his crimes, as well that he has a serious mental illness and intellectual disability.
In evidence, Buss said that now he was stabilised on medication he felt empathy and remorse for his victims.
He promised to take the help available upon release including engaging with NDIS and community mental health teams.
Buss also said he wanted to find accommodation away from Wollongong so he did not fall back into old habits and drug use.
Judge Haesler found it difficult to believe Buss' promises to himself and the court that he would not commit more crimes as he was previously sent to jail for robberies.
"I can't accept he will carry out that promise because time and time again when he is feeling good on his depot medication he decides he doesn't need it when frankly he sorely does," he said.
Judge Haesler also took into account that Buss was a 30-year-old Aboriginal man who had a difficult upbringing and after being released on parole he was living in his car and started hearing voices that told him to go back to jail.
Judge Haesler said Buss would require psychiatric treatment in custody and support upon his release.
He will be eligible for parole in April 2024.