A Lake Illawarra teen paid to film two friends bashing a man in front of his infant children in a vicious home invasion has narrowly avoided time behind bars.
Mathew Richard Sutton, 19, walked free from Wollongong courthouse on Tuesday with a 15-month intensive correction order in lieu of a full-time jail sentence.
Judge Paul Conlon found Sutton's offending fell in the mid-range of objective seriousness for such crimes, flatly rejecting defence lawyer Matthew Kwan's description of the matter as an "unremarkable home invasion".
"That's an extraordinary submission to make," Judge Conlon said, accusing Mr Kwan of trying to water-down the factual circumstances of the case.
"It seems to me [in making that submission] that your head might be somewhere in the clouds and your feet nowhere near the ground.
"To described it that way would seem to indicate a rather tenuous grip on reality."
Documents tendered to Wollongong District Court reveal Sutton was approached by a friend in early April with the offer of payment to video two teens, aged 15 and 17, bash a man inside his Berkeley home.
The court heard the attack was organised by the victim's neighbour as payback in an ongoing dispute between the two men.
The two teens arrived at the house armed with a baseball bat and proceeded to bash the father after he opened the front door of the home.
The victim's children, ranging in age from 2 to 11, began crying and screaming.
Meanwhile, Sutton filmed the encounter on his phone before the trio fled.
The victim was able to get up from the ground, lock his front door and check on his children, who were frightened but unhurt, before calling police.
CCTV cameras mounted outside the man's home clearly captured the faces of each of the offenders, police said.
Sutton showed the video to the man who had hired him, was paid up to $600, he said, then deleted the video.
Sutton was arrested the following day and charged with aggravated break and enter, to which he subsequently pleaded guilty.
In court on Tuesday, Sutton said he had no real motivation for carrying out the crime other than money and to "fit in and look cool to a couple of mates".
He described himself as "socially awkward" and said he felt like he had to fit in wherever he could.
When asked how he felt about what he'd done and its impact on the victim, he said he wished he could take it back.
"I'm remorseful, I feel like I've let myself down," he said.
"I feel stupid."
A psychological report prepared for the proceedings revealed Sutton had had a disadvantaged upbringing and struggled with depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Sutton's two young co-offenders received suspended prison sentences when their matters were dealt with in the NSW Children's Court.
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