Teen jailed for knife mugging

A BUNDABERG teenager was handed a jail term for his part in the knife-point mugging of an Asian backpacker, but was later granted immediate parole.

Bundaberg District Court was told Matthew Ashley Brendan Lawler, 19, and his friend Raymond George Kenneth Jenkins, 19, were arrested for robbing the Taiwanese national in the Riverside Parklands, Quay Street, in December 2008.

Jenkins pulled a knife on the backpacker and demanded money, while Mr Lawler acted as a lookout.

The victim fled and the pair took his backpack, containing a laptop computer.

Lawler reset the computer to override a log-in password and tried to sell it to a Bundaberg pawnbroker, the court heard.

But the pawnbroker noticed Asian symbols on the laptop and remembered a recent newspaper article about the mugging of a Taiwanese man, and reported the incident to police.

Lawler was charged with robbery while armed, use of a computer without permission of the owner and attempted fraud.

He was also charged with seven counts of wilful damage after he flung rocks from a slingshot into the windows of local businesses and homes.

He pleaded guilty to all charges yesterday.

Prosecutor Alex Stark yesterday asked for a prison sentence of up to two years, as Lawler had been placed on probation two months before the offences for an assault.

But defence counsel Julie Sharp said Lawler was only 17 at the time of the offences and had been without a suitable family environment for some time.

She asked Judge Keith Dodds to take into account his limited involvement in the most serious offence.

Lawler was sentenced to 18 months in jail for his involvement in the robbery, 12 months for attempted fraud, nine months for the unlawful use of the computer and three months for each of the seven wilful damage charges, to run concurrently.

He was also ordered to pay $1822 in compensation to property owners.

Lawler, who has already served time in custody, was released on parole and ordered to report to the parole office immediately.



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