Teenager's appeal against armed robberies sentence dismissed

A TEENAGE heroin addict from Coffs Harbour has failed to appeal the severity of a jail sentence handed down for a series of armed robberies in Sydney.

The 17-year-old, who cannot be named, is serving a minimum of seven years behind bars for the armed hold ups of three hotels and a bottle shop in 2010.

Armed with a kitchen knife and disguised in a balaclava, the teenager and his armed friend, terrorised staff at a Tempe hotel and forced them onto the floor in July.

One staff member was struck with a bottle and chair and repeatedly kicked before the offenders fled in a stolen car with about $7000 in cash.

The following month, the teenager and two others threatened staff at the Newington Hotel with a shotgun and baseball bat before making off with $4500 from the TAB in another stolen car.

Weeks later, the teenager was again part of an armed gang who stormed the Dan Murphy's bottle shop at Alexandria with a sword, handgun, chain and baseball bat and stole $600.

The last robbery took place at the Petersham Inn Hotel where staff and patrons were forced onto the floor and property and cash valued at $9000 was taken.

Police phone taps revealed the teenager was planning another robbery at Surry Hills.

He was arrested on September 16.

The NSW Supreme Court heard the teenager had been handed over to child services following the death of his mother when he was 11.

He started smoking cannabis at 11, using heroin at 14 and was regularly exposed to domestic violence and drug and alcohol abuse.

The sentencing judge rejected the submission that the offences were less serious because the weapons used were replicas but he did take into account the offender's pleas of guilty and youth and found he had "good prospects" of rehabilitation.

The teenager was sentenced to a total of 11 years jail with a non-parole period of seven years.

He appealed on the grounds the judge had erred in describing the robberies as "aggravated" because the teenager was in the company of others and that he should be subject to a lesser sentence.

The Court of Appeal rejected that submission and found the expressions used by the judge were simply to "emphasise the seriousness" of the offending and that the structure of the sentence had in fact shown a "significant degree of leniency".

The teenager will be eligible for parole in 2018.

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