17 years after crime spree, armed robber dobs himself in
ARMED robber Faitala Talafua got a dose of the guilts after a short lived crime spree to feed a gambling addiction.
When Talafua rang triple-0 to dob himself in, he shed light on unsolved crimes from 17 years earlier where police had no evidence to put him at the scene.
Talafua, 41, fronted Ipswich District Court where he was sentenced to jail for two crime sprees spread years apart.
In the Crown prosecution case father of two Faitala Taylor Talafua, 41, from Camira, pleaded guilty to three charges of armed robbery and two charges of robbery.
Crown prosecutor Amanda Robinson said the charges relate to robbing service stations at Redbank Plains on April 19, 2003; armed robbery (knife) at Redbank Plains on April 24, 2003; robbery at Redbank Plains on May 20, 2003; armed robbery (knife) at Redbank Plains on December 13, 2018; and armed robbery (knife) at Dinmore on December 13, 2018.
Ms Robinson said the first robbery involved a BP service station just after midnight where he asked a female shop attendant for cigarettes.
When she turned her back he put his fingers into the shape of a gun saying "give me all your money".
The woman at first thought he was joking, the court heard.
He stole $200 and a packet of cigarettes.
One month later he went back to the same BP service station and the woman recognised him.
He demanded all the money and was given $400.
One robbery involved a 7-Eleven service station at Redbank Plains where Talafua demanded money and stole $90.
Police were told he spent it on marijuana and alcohol.
Then after a 15-year hiatus Talafua struck again when at 1.15am on December 13, 2018 he walked into a service station and asked for cigarettes.
When the attendant turned away he took out a knife and stole $290 and cigarettes.
Ms Robinson said he told police that he threw away his clothes, shaved his face, and spent the money on pokies.
But after blowing the money quickly on the pokies he committed a second robbery at 4.15am the same day, walking into a 7-Eleven service station at Dinmore and demanding money while armed with a knife. He fled with $300.
Talafua confessed after calling triple-0 on January 12 last year, the court heard.
"He wanted to hand himself in. He then confessed to all robberies except count three as he could not recall it," Ms Robinson said.
"Without his admissions identifying him as being the perpetrator was unlikely.
"He told police his offending was motivated to buy drugs, alcohol and feed his gambling addiction."
She said his DNA was found on a bandana used in one robbery but at the time Talafua's DNA was not in the police records system.
Ms Robinson said his admissions showed true contrition and co-operation.
The court heard the woman who was twice victim had been severely affected as a result.
In submission on penalty Ms Robinson told Judge Dennis Lynch QC that his sentence could be toward the lower end with a jail term between four and six years.
Defence barrister Justin Thomas said Talafua was born in Western Samoa, had been schooled in New Zealand and moved to Australia aged 18.
"He is not an Australian citizen. He has a New Zealand passport," Mr Thomas said.
"At the time of the first offences he instructs he was hanging out with the wrong crowd, and used the money for drugs and alcohol."
Mr Thomas said 2018 had been an emotional rollercoaster for Talafua financially as he'd not been working and had to contribute towards two family funerals. He also had a gambling addiction at the time.
"He became quite desperate," he said.
Judge Lynch took into account medical issues, remorse, and the fact that Talafua had come forward.
Talafua was sentenced to four years jail suspended after he serves nine months behind bars.
The remainder of his sentence was suspended for five years.